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July 21, 2008

’We’ll pay for you to die’

Barbara_wagner From the Eugene, Oregon Register-Guard (thanks to my dad for the tip):

After her oncologist prescribed a cancer drug that could slow the cancer growth and extend her life, [Barbara] Wagner was notified that the Oregon Health Plan wouldn’t cover the treatment, but that it would cover palliative, or comfort, care, including, if she chose, doctor-assisted suicide. . . .

Wagner said she was devastated when she found out that the Oregon Health Plan wouldn’t cover Tarceva, the drug that her oncologist ordered when her lung cancer came back.

“I think it’s messed up,” Wagner said, bursting into tears.

She was particularly upset because the letter of denial said that doctor-assisted suicide would be covered.

“To say to someone, we’ll pay for you to die, but not pay for you to live, it’s cruel,” she said. “I get angry. Who do they think they are?”

Dr. John Sattenspiel of LIPA, which administers the Oregon Health Plan, responded, "We had no intent to upset her but we do need to point out the options available to her under the Oregon Health Plan.”

Wagner finally got some good news when the drug company offered to give her the medicine for free. But her story is a sobering one. The next time someone tells you that assisted suicide is only for those who choose it, tell them about Barbara Wagner -- and ask how many other Barbara Wagners might be out there getting pressured to choose the same "option."

(Image © Paul Carter for the Register-Guard)

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Steve (SBK)

This is the problem with bureaucracies.
Everybody is just doing their jobs.
"Our job is to make you aware of your options (that our bosses allow)".
That's it. End of story. Mea Non Culpa. Ignorance is Bliss. Please shut the door on your way out.

Rolley Haggard

And in all likelihood the next Barbara Wagner WON'T get free medicine because there won't be as great a photo-op for drug companies to look magnanimous.

Observe how sensibilities get jaded -- the first sin is always a shocker. The second one never seems quite as bad.

Steve (SBK)

Interestingly (and somewhat related to my first comment, though it may now be "hijacking" the thread), Jennifer F. recently had this post:

(and a commenter in it referenced this article at First Things:

Warning: Links & Links within Links may lead to long reading times. (I suppose that should be a sign on entering "The Internet").


As the Baby Boomers age (particularly as they enter old age in the next 20-30 years) watch for LOTS of squeeze plays where individuals, hospitals, maybe even insurance companies try to "OFF" the excess old.
Watch for "touching" dramas which will sell the idea of "eldercide" to Gen Y and beyond:

(here's a possible sample plot): Granddaughter "needs" Grandpa's money to complete her dream of being a professional ballerina...only Grandpa keeps living on in that expensive nursing home (with a closeup on Grandpa's mouth drooling)... in Part Two of what will be called "Life Unworthy of Life.. that old mid 20th Century phrase for the unwanted...

Rolley Haggard

Thanks for those links, SBK. Very appropriate.

Joe Dalfonzo

pay attention kiddies ... one of our presumptive Presidential nominees is a champion of "Universal" health care - a premise of which is the best care for the most people. It fails in Canada, it fails in MA and it most certainly fails in Oregon.

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