Insurers use California’s assisted-suicide law to deny treatment for terminal patients

Legal Insurrection – by Leslie Eastman

About one-year ago, Gov. Jerry Brown signed the state’s assisted-suicide bill into law. It fully went into effect this June, with the opening of the first clinic. While there is no data on the number of California assisted-suicides, Oregon recorded over 130 last year as part of their legalized physician-assisted death program.

Now, one young mother says her insurance company denied her coverage for chemotherapy treatment after originally agreeing to provide the fiscal support for it, but indicated it would be willing to pay for assisted suicide instead.  

Stephanie Packer, a wife and mother of four who was diagnosed with a terminal form of scleroderma, said her insurance company initially indicated it would pay for her to switch to a different chemotherapy drug at the recommendation of her doctors.

…But shortly after California’s End of Life Option Act, which authorizes physicians to diagnose a life-ending dose of medication to patients with a prognosis of six months or less to live, went into effect, Ms. Packer’s insurance company had a change of heart.

“And when the law was passed, it was a week later I received a letter in the mail saying they were going to deny coverage for the chemotherapy that we were asking for,” Ms. Packer said.

She said she called her insurance company to find out why her coverage had been denied. On the call, she also asked whether suicide pills were covered under her plan.

“And she says, ‘Yes, we do provide that to our patients, and you would only have to pay $1.20 for the medication,’” Ms. Packer said.

Packer attends meetings with others suffering from terminal illnesses. She indicates that the tone of those meetings have changed since the California assisted-suicide law was enacted.

“As soon as this law was passed – and you see it everywhere, when these laws are passed – patients fighting for a longer life end up getting denied treatment, because this will always be the cheapest option.”

Packer attends a support group for terminally ill patients. She said legally sanctioned suicide has changed the tone of the meetings, which used to be “positive and encouraging.” With patients under new societal pressure to kill themselves, she said meetings “became negative, and it started consuming people. And then they said, ‘You know what? I wish I could just end it.’”

Concerned about the enormous potential for abuse, a the national organization, Patients Rights Action Fund, has created a website for patients like Packer. The online resource offers a place for patients, family members, concerned friends to report possible coercion, failure to identify depression or other patient mental health concerns, and complications that arise from the overdose prescription or other aspects of the assisted-suicide process.

  • Were you or someone you know pressured to use assisted suicide, misleadingly known as ‘death with dignity’ or ‘aid in dying’?
  • Did you or a loved one have a chronic, life-threatening illness and personal circumstances where you/they felt like suicide or assisted suicide was your only option?
  • Did a doctor advise you or someone you know of a prognosis of 6 months or less that was wrong by months, years, or even decades?
  • Were you or a loved one denied coverage for a life-sustaining treatment or medication by your HMO or insurance company?

During his Gettysburg Address describing the first 100 days in office if he is elected President, Donald Trump indicated he would work to replace Obamcare with health savings accounts, remove barriers to purchasing health insurance across state lines, allow states to manage Medicaid funds and speed up drug approval inside the Food and Drug Administration.

However, his election would be too late help many terminally-ill Californians who are now experiencing the unintended, but quite predictable, consequence of yet another feel good progressive policy.

Legal Insurrection

One thought on “Insurers use California’s assisted-suicide law to deny treatment for terminal patients

  1. She should cancel her insurance and start a hemp oil regimen that will actually cure her cancer, but of course, they’ll throw her in jail for it, and make a few bucks from the poor woman that way instead.

    These merciless, inhuman, worshipers of money only want to bleed every penny out of you while you’re alive, and then try to save a few bucks on your death, too.

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