Bipartisan Agreement on Killing Disabled People

Although most people, policy makers and media, are not talking about people with disabilities, we’re acutely aware of the disparate ways that both the right and the left are fine with policies that will clearly lead to our premature deaths, along with the millions of seniors who depend on Medicaid to supplement Medicare.

On the national scene, the American Health Care Act (an oxymoron if ever there was one) threatens coverage of the care we need to survive, be as healthy as possible, and live in our own homes, not nursing homes. As Bruce Darling, CEO of the Center for Disability Rights, wrote in an op-ed entitled Disabled New Yorkers will lose their independence, suffer and die:

Medicaid pays for a wide range of services and supports for disabled individuals and seniors:

  • The community habilitation worker who takes developmentally disabled individuals to the grocery store;
  • The attendant that supports an elderly woman staying in her home;
  • The custom wheelchair and speech-board — like those used by Stephen Hawking — that makes college and employment possible for a young woman with muscular dystrophy;
  • The ventilator used by the young man who became a quadriplegic on the football field.

Scores of disability activists protested the bill and closed down the U.S. Capitol rotunda yesterday, with 54 arrested by police, including Not Dead Yet’s Anita Cameron. It took this loud and strong action to get at least some attention paid to the mass devastation inherent in AHCA. Here are some examples of press taking notice:

On the other side, we have physician assisted suicide bills moving forward in Hawaii, Maine and Nevada, with similar bills introduced in about a dozen other states. If any readers don’t think assisted suicide is relevant to disabled people, John Kelly sums it up nicely in his op-ed this week in the Santa Fe New Mexican concerning the NM assisted suicide bill SB 252:

Millions of people now face the prospect of losing health insurance if Congress repeals the Affordable Care Act. That will mean even less choice. SB 252 would have put depressed people with a serious health condition or disability at risk. . . .

We now have 25 years of reports from Oregon and Washington, which show that pain (which includes fear of pain) is the sixth-cited of seven “end-of-life concerns.” Oregon physicians report giving lethal drugs mainly due to psychosocial distress about disability, including dependence on other people (“losing autonomy,” 91 percent), grief over lost abilities (90 percent), loss of the respect of others (“loss of dignity,” 77 percent), needing help with incontinence (“losing control of bodily functions,” 47 percent) and believing that suicide would leave loved ones better off (“burden on family, friends/caregivers,” 42 percent).

What we disabled people see in legalizing assisted suicide is that some people receive suicide prevention, while others get suicide assistance, based on value judgments and prejudice. Instead, let’s make sure that people have the choice and support to live — and die — comfortably, at home, with pain controlled and dignity intact.

The New Mexico assisted suicide bill was defeated in a bipartisan vote that hopefully demonstrates a welcome insight on the issues.

Still, it feels like people with disabilities are stuck in a room between walls on the right and the left, closing in on us.

2 thoughts on “Bipartisan Agreement on Killing Disabled People

  1. Yes! Both political parties are complicit in changing Medicare and Medicaid from fee for service to manage care and managed death reimbursement protocols in order to protect the profit margins of all of the special interests in the Medical Industrial Complex and the stocks of the big health insurers in the USA.

    The scenario of “observation” is often used against the elderly and the disabled on Medicare and Medicaid to keep them from being admitted to the hospital on Part A Medicare/Advantage insurance and Part A Medicaid Hospital Insurance. Instead they often go from an Emergency Room to a hospital room on “observation” and if they die, they don’t die in an expensive ICU or CCU unit as an inpatient. This saves the insurers and the hospitals money in expensive ICU AND CCU inpatient costs and shifts the costs to “outpatient” status wherein the elderly disabled patient, as a Medicare or Medicaid patient, bears more of the costs.

    Home Care and Hospice Care are often delivered by the same parent organization and and it becomes possible for the “home care” patient to be transferred to “hospice care” with no intervening hospital visit to Emergency and/or observation, which saves money in expensive end-of-life costs.

    The passive euthanasia of the elderly/disabled on Medicare/Medicaid with unilateral covert or overt DNR code status that permits the withholding or withdrawing of life-saving care in US Hospitals appears to be protected under law in the USA. The unilateral covert or overt DNR code status is treated only as an “ethics violation” by the United States Courts. See articfles by Professor Thaddeus Pope, entitled tratment of involuntary passive euthanasia by the United States Courts. C


  2. Ms. Eblen articulates well the lies and age-old misgivings that plague both the acute- and long-term care establishment in western nations. But it’s so glaringly obvious! What holds ethicists back from pinning the ears of the donkey on the lawmakers? Perhaps, tragically, it is that over the decades so many citizens of these aforementioned societies have suffered cognitive dissonance in matters of dying relatives; they just “let them go” (or worse). Even if those same relatives are turned into tacit felons along with the attending physician! But besides that fact, I want to know what Not Dead Yet wants me to do down here in my state. We’ve won a morsel of victory this Friday, but blows against the PPAC Act of 2010 will restart. How to call out the DEMS on their insufficient physician-assisted suicide policy stance—check that—on their literal encouragement for- and authoring of- such ridiculous and atrocious legal language? All around the U.S there’s blind and callous momentum for lazy, cheap, and cruel statutes to treat the sick, disabled, and injured. Indeed, it hurts my ear drums to hear Compassion and Choices, Inc. speakers try to assemble cogent arguments that contain any economic merits or kindness toward patients. And they, by -and-large, have heavy hitting DEMS standing behind them on those podiums. How sad. “No On P.A.S.” (and POLST) should be a plank in the all the state Democratic Parties’ platforms. It is for the GOP organizations. How odd. Yes, it’s all so sad and so odd! What do we do with these two behemoths of power?

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