MANAGED CARE ETHICS: Theologians Reach Consensus
A theological center has reviewed the ethical problems that decision makers in the managed care setting face, recommending a framework for assessing and balancing the competing values at stake. Entitled "Ethical Issues in Managed Health Care Organizations," the consensus statement published by the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University is based on the input of representatives from all fields of managed care, including doctors, nurses, medical directors, corporate purchasers and even ethics experts. The study reviews the ethical problems that decision makers in managed care organizations confront, examines the origins and complexities of these problems and recommends an eight-step framework for assessing the competing values at stake. In one section, the report applies the eight-step approach to a particular case study "to capture the moral and emotional issues that the participants confronted." In the publication's final section, seminar participants assert that managed care is still evolving and is "potentially a morally acceptable, even beneficial enterprise." Father James Connor, S.J., director of Woodstock, said, "We hope the document will help to spur a national debate and discussion not only about the decisions that are being made by private actors in the health care system, but also about the processes being used ... to reach those decisions." The report, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, can be obtained by calling 202/687-3532 (Georgetown release, 1/22).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.