END-OF-LIFE CARE: State Rep. Rebukes Physician-Assisted Suicide
Writing in today's Los Angeles Times, state Rep. George Runner (R-Antelope Valley) says his experience as a member of the state Assembly Select Committee on Palliative Care has convinced him that physician-assisted suicide is not a solution for relief of the terminally ill, especially those in agonizing pain. He says that the move toward physician-assisted suicide will negatively impact the most "vulnerable in our society, primarily our elderly, disabled and terminally ill." He writes, however, that "[t]here is a compassionate alternative to death by suicide: genuine treatment of the intense pain associated with many terminal illnesses." Noting that "medical professionals can effectively treat nearly everyone suffering from intense pain," Runner calls for a change in the "restrictions that prohibit access to effective pain medication" rather than "legalizing physician-assisted suicide." He also notes that HMO cost-pressures "are another lubricant on the slippery slope to the death culture." He writes: "We live in a society with a dollar-driven health care system that rewards doctors and hospital administrators who provide the most cost-effective treatments. Unfortunately, in this area a 'prescribed suicide' is clearly the cheapest solution -- but it is not the compassionate care that should be expected." He says the "solution must be to arm caregivers with the ability to provide every possible pain management therapy and to better educate the medical profession about what is available." Writing that "[c]ompassion is not bumping off suffering patients," he notes he has coauthored AB 2693 to end the triplicate prescription form required for many narcotic pain relievers and introduced AB 2305 to "require HMOs to provide access to pain management medications deemed appropriate" (5/4).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.