Death Drugs Cause Uproar in Oregon: Terminally Ill Denied Drugs for Life, But Can Opt for Suicide
" At about $50 to KIll Her Vs $4,000-a-month drug to Help her .Its a lot Cheaper to Kill her Than to Help Her !
Critics of Oregon's decade-old Death With Dignity Law --" Insurance Industry's Cost Controls !"
the only one of its kind in the nation -- have been up in arms over the indignity of her unsigned rejection letter. Even those who support Oregon's liberal law were upset.
The news from Barbara Wagner's doctor was bad, but the rejection letter from her insurance company was crushing. Barbara Wagner(Paul Carter/Register-Guard) The 64-year-old Oregon woman, whose lung cancer had been in remission, learned the disease had returned and would likely kill her.
Her last hope was a $4,000-a-month drug that her doctor prescribed for her, but the insurance company refused to pay.
What the Oregon Health Plan did agree to cover, however, were drugs for a physician-assisted death. Those drugs would cost about $50. "It was horrible . "I got a letter in the mail that basically said if you want to take the pills, we will help you get that from the doctor and we will stand there and watch you die. But we won't give you the medication to live."
The incident has spilled over the state border into Washington, where advocacy groups are pushing for enactment of Initiative 1000 in November, legalizing a similar assisted-death law.
'Dr. Death's' New MissionOpponents say the law presents all involved with an "unacceptable conflict" and the impression that insurance companies see dying as a cost-saving measure. They say it steers those with limited finances toward assisted death.
"News of payment denial is tough enough for a terminally ill person to bear," said Steve Hopcraft, a spokesman for Compassion and Choices, a group that supports coverage of physician-assisted death.