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Latest additions to web site: 11/21/17
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Preauthorization — What does it mean?
“Preauthorization” — sometimes called “prior authorization” — is a decision by a health care insurer or plan that a health care service, treatment plan, prescription drug or durable medical equipment is medically necessary.  Your health insurance or plan may require preauthorization before you can receive them.
When presenting a program about new advances in treating heart failure, a physician found the answer.

“Who Actually Is Reviewing All Those Preauthorization Requests?”
(Medpage Today — November 8, 2017)
Nearly all of the physicians in attendance were in their 70s and 80s.  All were retired, and none were actively involved in patient care.  Most of the attendees were employed by insurance companies to do preauthorizations for drugs and medical procedures.
The presenter asked if they had heard of the new treatments before.  They responded that they had but that they did not authorize them.
When asked, “If the drugs will help people, how can you say no?” they responded:
“You see, if it weren’t for us, the system would go broke.  Every time we say yes,
healthcare becomes more expensive, and that isn’t a good thing. …  Plus, if I
approve too many expensive drugs, I won’t get my bonus at the end of the month.”
More on Cost Containment

“‘Terminal’: What does it mean?”
Doctors who favor doctor-prescribed suicide are prescribing the lethal drugs for patients who could live for decades. 
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2017 Doctor-Prescribed Suicide Bills Proposed
Scroll down for more of the latest developments and featured articles.

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Scroll down for other Recent Developments, and for Featured Articles.

For additional information, see Site Map.
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The Latest PRC Update (2017 – Volume 31, No. 2):

  • 15 states rejected doctor-prescribed suicide bills since the beginning of the year
  • Compassion & Choices drops appeal in Vermont case
  • When patients’ death requests supersede physicians’ conscience rights
  • Mayo Clinic study finds over 20% of patients are totally misdiagnosed
  • News briefs from home & abroad
    View as plain text.  View as PDF

Who will speak for you?
Imagine you are in an accident tomorrow and so seriously injured that you aren’t able to communicate about your health care wishes for several weeks. Who would make health care decisions for you during that time? Do you need an advance directive?

To obtain a durable power of attorney for health care for the state in which you are a resident, call the Patients Rights Council (800-958-5678 or 740-282-3810) between 8:30am and 4:30pm (eastern time).
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Recent Major Developments

ATTEMPT TO PLACE A PROPOSAL PERMITTING DOCTOR-PRESCRIBED SUICIDE ON THE SOUTH DAKOTA BALLOT FAILS.
Supporters failed to collect enough signatures for the proposed ballot question, called the  “Death with Dignity” measure.
More on South Dakota

“SCOTUS Declines To Hear Minnesota Assisted Suicide Case”
(Minnesota CBS Local — October 2, 2017)
The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear the case of a national group convicted of assisting in the 2007 suicide of a Minnesota woman.
Florida-based Final Exit Network argued that Minnesota’s law making it a crime to help other people kill themselves violates the freedom of speech.
But Minnesota’s appellate courts disagreed, saying the state’s assisted-suicide law is constitutional and that “assisting” suicide can include speech instructing another person in methods.
More on Minnesota

“Major US doctors group opposes physician-assisted suicide”
(BioEdge — September 23, 2017)
The American College of Physicians, the second largest physician group in the United States with 152,000 members, has declared that physician-assisted suicide is unethical.

“Mass. Medical Society opposes ‘death with dignity’ bills”
(MassLive — September 26, 2017)
The Massachusetts Medical Society has reaffirmed its long-standing opposition to doctor-assisted suicide as the state legislature’s Public Health Committee holds a hearing on proposed legislation that would allow it in certain circumstances.
More on Massachusetts

“No state constitutional right to assisted suicide, New York high court rules”
(Washington Post — September 7, 2017)
According to the decision, “Although New York has long recognized a competent adult’s right to forgo life-saving medical care, we reject plaintiffs’ argument that an individual has a fundamental constitutional right to aid-in-dying as they define it.  We also reject plaintiffs’ assertion that the State’s prohibition on assisted suicide is not rationally related to legitimate state interests.”
More on New York

“Euthanasia used for 4.5 percent of deaths in the Netherlands”
(Washington Post — August 2, 2017)
“When assisted  dying is becoming the more normal option at the end of life, there is a risk people will feel more inclined to ask for it….”
“These are old people who may have health problems, but none of them are life-threatening.  They’re old, they can’t get around, their friends are dead and their children don’t visit anymore… This kind of trend cries out for discussion.  Do we think their lives are still worthwhile?”
More on Holland

California releases first data report on End of Life Options Act
(California Department of Public Health — June 27, 2017)
According to the report, 111 people died after taking the drugs prescribed under the law.
Unlike other official reports from states permitting doctor-prescribed suicide, there is no information about whether any patient was referred for “counseling.”  Also lacking is information about the end-of-life concerns expressed by patients, whether or not a doctor or other health care provider was present at the time of death, whether there were complications, etc.  While the report indicates that 10 patients qualified for the lethal drugs due to “other underlying illnesses,” there is no information about what those illnesses were.  (In Oregon, for example, diabetes has been listed as an underlying condition which qualified the patient for the prescription.)
More on California

For additional articles and information, see Site Map.

Featured Articles

“‘No One Is Coming’: Hospice Patients Abandoned At Death’s Door”
(California Healthline — October 26, 2017)
The hospice care people expect — and sign up for — sometimes disappears when they need it most.  Families across the country, from Alaska to Appalachia, have called for help in times of crisis and been met with delays, no-shows and unanswered calls…. Only in rare cases were hospices punished for providing poor care, the investigation showed.
More on Hospice

“Financial abuse of elderly parents on the rise as housing becomes more unaffordable”
(Domain.com – The Age newspaper – August 27, 2017)
Parents are increasingly being bullied into downsizing prematurely…This “inheritance impatience” can have dire consequences on their lives…Some are forced into retirement villages too early.
More on Elder Abuse

“Case of maggots in throat offers rare look at neglect probes”
(AP News — August 10, 2017)
In his bed at a New York state group home for the severely disabled, Steven Wenger lay helpless against a silent invader. It was the first of two infestations of the larval flies in his throat over successive days last summer…If the Associated Press had not obtained a confidential report on the case, it’s unlikely anyone in the outside world would have known anything about it.
That’s because in New York and most other states, details of abuse and neglect investigations in state-regulated institutions for the disabled, addicted and mentally ill are almost never made public, even with the names blacked out.
[What can families do if they have a loved one who needs a group home?]
In the absence of publicly available information, Leslie Morrison, director of investigations for the advocacy group Disability Rights California, advises families to do their own detective work.
“Go visit the facility.  There’s nothing better than walking around, doing a sniff test, doing is unannounced,” she said.  “If  you can get in the door, that is.  If you can’t get in the door, that might suggest something to me also.”
More on Disability Perspective

“Stop Assisted Suicide Opioid Abuse”
(First Things — August 8, 2017)
“[O]ne important piece of the opioid problem was omitted…
The Commission’s report fails to consider the mixed message doctors send when they make opioids available to patients for use in committing suicide:
‘Don’t abuse opioids, because they can kill you — unless you have a terminal illness and want them to kill you, in which case your overdose will be considered ‘death with dignity.'”

“How the Medicaid Debate Affects Long-Term Care Insurance Decisions”
(New York Times — July 14, 2017)
Susan Flanders, a retired Episcopal priest who watched her father die slowly while in the throes of Alzheimer’s, believes that the aid-in-dying movement will eventually catch up to the desire of many people to make plans in advance to end their lives, should their minds permanently falter in a severe fashion.
She’s also utterly unafraid to mix money into the conversation…”It’s hundreds of dollars each day that could go towards their grandchildren’s education or care for people who could get well…”. How soon will the federal and state governments come around….
More on Medicare and Medicaid
More on Cost Containment
More on Alzheimer’s

“Disability Rights Toolkit for Advocacy Against Legalization of Assisted Suicide”
(Not Dead Yet — posted June 23 2017)
The perspective of the disability rights organizations and advocates that oppose legalization of assisted suicide are an essential part of the public debate, in keeping with the fundamental principle, “Nothing About Us Without Us!”
More on Disability Perspective

“Abusing assisted suicide laws”
(Washington Times — June 7, 2017)
With the passage of assisted-suicide laws, there are new reports that health insurance companies are refusing to cover lifesaving medical care and are offering to pay patients to kill themselves instead…..Allowing insurance company bureaucrats to overrule how a doctor will treat a patient at any point is absurd, but in an age when some states are legalizing assisted suicide, it can be downright deadly.
More on Cost Containment

“Assisted Suicide: Rhetoric v. Reality”
(Patients Rights Council)
Proponents of doctor-prescribed suicide point to Oregon to show that there have been no problems or abuses in the  years since its law went into effect.  Contrasting this rhetoric with the reality is crucial.
More on Oregon

“NDY Urges AMA to Affirm Longstanding Opposition to Legalizing Assisted Suicide”
(Not Dead Yet — February 15, 2017)
One of the most frequently repeated claims by proponents of assisted suicide laws is that there is “no evidence or data” to support any claim that these laws are subject to abuse…” These claims are demonstrably false.
More on Disability Perspective
More on Oregon

“‘ I know they are going to die.’ This foster father takes in only terminally ill children”
(Los Angeles Times — February 8, 2017)
Bzeek, a quiet, devout Libyan-born Muslim who lives in Azusa, just wants her to know she’s not alone in this life….”The key is, you have to love them like your own,” Bzeek said recently.  “I know they are sick.  I know they are going to die.  I do my best and leave the rest to God.”
More on Children and Teens

“Do patients pay when they leave against medical advice?”
Patients who are leaving the hospital against medical advice are often told by hospital staff that doing so will leave them liable for the entire bill because insurance will not pay if they leave against medical advice.
As described in a study, that is a myth, a medical urban legend, and one which is widespread.

Previously Featured Articles
Also see site map to access specific topics which include previously featured articles.

Have you heard about VSED?  
It stands for voluntarily stopping eating and drinking. VSED is being promoted by assisted-suicide activists who are also working to force health care providers to participate in it.  Important Questions & Answers about VSED

From the bookshelf…
Twenty-six years ago, Ann Humphry, the co-founder of the Hemlock Society (now called Compassion and Choices) committed suicide. Her death made headlines worldwide.

Prior to her death, Ann contacted Rita Marker, a staunch euthanasia opponent. Over time, the two became close friends, and Ann asked Rita to make public secrets about the right-to-die movement — secrets that had weighed heavily on Ann.

Two years after Ann’s tragic death, the book, Deadly Compassion: The Death of Ann Humphry and the Truth About Euthanasia was published. It recounts Ann’s personal story, the founding of the Hemlock Society, and activities of euthanasia and doctor-prescribed suicide advocates. Thousands of copies of the book were sold in the United States, England, Canada and Australia. (Read excerpts from reviews of the book.)

Now, for the first time, you can read Deadly Compassion in its entirety on line in PDF format.