Anita Cameron: American Health Care Act and Doctor Prescribed Suicide

The American Health Care Act (AHCA) is dangerous for people with disabilities. If passed, among other things, it will most likely eliminate affordable insurance coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, cut $834 billion from Medicaid over ten years (most people with disabilities, including seniors, rely on Medicaid for personal care, long-term care services and supports and durable medical equipment), and make drastic cuts in primary healthcare programs and services that low income people rely on.

For people who live in states where assisted suicide is legal, this will be a deadly combination. Insurance companies will be more emboldened to deny people with life-threatening conditions the medications they need to save or prolong their lives, offering them, instead, the “option” of the suicide prescription.

The lives of people with disabilities are already devalued, and doctors are likely to either intentionally or unintentionally influence, recommend or coerce their patients into assisted suicide, citing the financial burden they will be on their families.

With services such as mental health on the chopping block in AHCA, newly disabled individuals, seniors or terminally ill people will have less access to these services, putting them at greater risk to succumb to coercion by unscrupulous family members, heirs, or caregivers to get the suicide meds and take them.

There is nothing good about the American Health Care Act. It is designed specifically to cut back any protections that people with disabilities and low-income folks had in healthcare under the Obama administration. It will make it that much easier to force people with disabilities, seniors and people on low or fixed incomes into assisted suicide should they be deemed—correctly or not–to have a terminal condition.

Doctor assisted suicide is about one thing only – the establishment of a two-tiered system of suicide prevention. If you are healthy or nondisabled and want to die you get suicide prevention services, whereas if you are sick or disabled you are encouraged and provided the means to commit suicide. The American Health Care Act, by its very nature, will make this deadly form of discrimination much easier to carry out.

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