Bioethicists speak out on health care reform myths, calling the current state of health care unethical

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The Association of Bioethics Program Directors - with members in 60 academic bioethics programs posted "a clear message about some myths that challenge the ethics of reform proposals."

Excerpts:

Myth #1: Health care reform will mean giving up control of my own health care decisions.


Fact: The field of bioethics has long championed the rights of individual patients to make their own health care decisions in consultation with their physicians. If we thought the major proposals being considered posed a serious threat to these rights, we would be the first to speak out. But that is NOT the case. The right of individuals to make decisions about their health care is engrained in the ethics of American medical practice and that won't change under any of the approaches to health care reform currently under discussion.

Myth #2: Health care reform will control health care costs by depriving patients of important, but costly, medical treatments.

Fact: This is also untrue. If anything, the provisions in current health care proposals will increase the likelihood that patients will get quality medical care and decrease the likelihood of medical errors that kill thousands of patients every year.

Myth #3: Health care reform will deny older Americans medical treatments at the end of life.

Fact: This may be the most pernicious myth of all. In proposed approaches to reform, there is a provision that supports the rights of individuals and their families to make decisions at the end of life by institutionalizing a process for patients and families to express their desires to their physicians and other health care professionals. This right is part of the culture of American medicine, defended since the beginnings of the field of bioethics, and supported by case law
going back over 50 years. Some opponents of health care reform have twisted both the intent and effect of this provision, making unsupported claims about how it will push older Americans into hospice against their will, and even euthanasia. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Here is the real bottom line: The current state of health care is unethical. It is neither just nor fair. There is no morally defensible reason why some Americans get excellent medical care at costs they can afford and other Americans lose their homes or go into bankruptcy attempting to secure treatment for a seriously ill loved one. The current proposals being debated in Congress all go a long way towards making health care in America more just. At the same time, there is nothing in the current proposals that threatens a patient's right to choose, a critical feature of an ethically acceptable health care system.

1 Comment

Thanks for getting the message out, I think that people are freaking out and not listening to what the President is really proposing. They seem to just hear the smear campaign against it.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Gary Schwitzer published on August 12, 2009 12:14 PM.

A call for "minimally disruptive medicine" was the previous entry in this blog.

Brazen Billy Tauzin & Pharma's Lock on US Health Care Spending is the next entry in this blog.

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