Tag aid in dying

AM New York: New York’s physician-assisted suicide bill debated at State Assembly Committee on Health

By Anne Erhart, May 3

The State Assembly Committee on Health heard testimony from 48 people on Thursday regarding a bill allowing medical aid in dying, or physician-assisted suicide.

The bill would allow for terminally ill patients with a prognosis of six months-or-less to live to take a “cocktail” of drugs to end their life. It would also allow them to pick up the “cocktail” up from their pharmacy once approved by two doctors and confirmed by two independent witnesses.

New York’s proposed legislation is modeled on Oregon’s medical aid in dying bill, which has been in place since 1994. The legislation is known as “assisted suicide” by its opponents, and is currently legal in seven total states and the District of Columbia.

Nearly two-thirds of New Yorkers support allowing doctors to legally prescribe lethal drugs to terminally ill patients, according to a poll released Thursday by Quinnipiac University.

ABC 7: New York lawmakers hold hearing on physician-assisted suicide (w/ video)

By Dave Evans, May 3 (video in link)

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) –

State lawmakers in New York are taking a closer look at a legislative proposal to give terminally ill people the right to seek life-ending medication from their physician.

The Assembly’s Health Committee held a public hearing on the measure Thursday in Manhattan. It came after a hearing last month in Albany.

The proposal now before lawmakers, called the Medical Aid in Dying Law, would require two doctors to sign off on the use of life-ending medication. The patient must be within six months of death and must self-administer the drug.

El Diario: Debaten ley de muerte asistida en la ciudad de Nueva York

By Pedro Frisneda, May 3

Quizás, aparte del aborto y la marihuana medicinal, no existe otro tema médico y de salud más polémico y controversial que el de la muerte asistida.

Esto quedó muy claro, este jueves, durante la primera audiencia pública que se realiza en la ciudad de Nueva York sobre una legislación estatal que, de ser aprobada, permitiría a enfermos terminales –que sean adultos mentalmente competentes–, la opción de solicitar ayuda médica para morir.

Durante la audiencia, organizada por el Comité de Salud de la Asamblea Estatal de Nueva York, que tiene en sus manos la responsabilidad de aprobar el anteproyecto antes de que pase al pleno de la Asamblea Estatal,  los neoyorquinos tuvieron la oportunidad de escuchar los diferentes puntos de vista y argumentos de medio centenar de personas que expusieron su apoyo o rechazo a la legislación.

Tal como lo plantea el proyecto de ley A-2383-A, conocido como ‘Medical Aid in Dying Act‘ (Ayuda Médica para Morir),  que fue patrocinado por la asambleísta Amy Paulin (D-Westchester), los neoyorquinos adultos con enfermedades mortales  –como los que tiene cáncer en estado terminal–, y que estén en pleno juicio, tendrían la opción de solicitar a un doctor una prescripción  para un medicamento que puedan tomar por sí mismo y  que les permita morir pacíficamente mientras duermen, si su sufrimiento y dolor se vuelven insoportables.

Capitol Pressroom: Medical Aid in Dying (Audio)

On April 23, I joined Assembly Member Amy Paulin on Capitol Pressroom to discuss Medical Aid in Dying:  Audio here.

News 10 Albany: NY Assembly hearing held on aid in dying (with video)

By Morgan McKay, 4/23/18 (video at link)

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The New York Assembly heard testimony that will decide if they should proceed with legislation that would allow for medical aid in dying or physician-assisted suicide.

“They should have had the right to choose,” Janet Duprey, Former Republican Assemblywoman from Plattsburgh, said.

Duprey says her mother suffered a series of strokes and eventually requested for her feeding tube to be removed.

“She did not want the feeding tube reinserted, she simply wanted to die. It took her 11 days to starve to death.

For this reason, Duprey and a large crowd in yellow shirts came to the Assembly hearing to show their support for medical aid in dying legislation.

Associated Press: Legislative hearing on aid-in-dying bill attracts big crowds

By David Klepper, 4/27

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Hundreds of people on both sides of the debate over physician-assisted suicide traveled to Albany on Monday for a hearing on legislation that would allow people with a terminal illness to request life-ending medication from a doctor.

The measure has been discussed for years in the state Capitol but faces significant legislative opposition and isn’t expected to pass before lawmakers adjourn their session in June. But supporters insist they’re gaining momentum as other states adopt similar laws. Colorado, Washington, Vermont, California, Oregon, Montana, Hawaii and Washington D.C. allow people to seek a doctor’s help in ending their life.

Under the proposal, which is based on Oregon’s 21-year-old law, a person with a terminal illness and a life expectancy of six months or less could obtain life-ending medication if at least two doctors agree with their prognosis and determine they are of sound mind.

City & State NY: Health Care Officials Offer Diagnoses for New York’s Funding Challenges – Richard Gottfried, Mitchell Katz and Carlina Rivera Weigh In

(mayamaya/Shutterstock)

By City & State | February 27, 2018

Thanks to a flu season that’s one of the worst in recent memory, it has been a tough winter to stay healthy. Influenza hospitalizations are up and thousands have died. The flu vaccine has proven to be less effective than in years past, and public health experts say the disease may have yet to reach its peak. The spread of the virus is likely to continue for weeks.

It has also been a tough winter for New York policymakers and government officials who rely on Washington for funding. While congressional Republicans failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act, they’ve taken incremental steps to undermine the law, such as eliminating the individual mandate. The federal government has also reduced funding for safety net hospitals and for the ACA’s Basic Health Program, both of which play a major role in New York. Some Republicans in Washington still hope to scale back Medicaid and Medicare as well.

So we checked in with a few of New York’s top health care officials to hear their diagnosis of the situation – and how to remedy it.

Assemblyman Richard Gottfried (Jeff Coltin)

RICHARD GOTTFRIED, Chairman, Assembly Health Committee

C&S: What are your health legislative priorities this year?

RG: Our first order of business is, of course, dealing with health care cuts in the budget. This is not the worst year, not the worst budget we’ve seen, nor the best. But there are still serious cuts in health programs and restrictions in Medicaid that I and the Assembly will be trying to reverse. Beyond that, not necessarily in any particular order, passing the Reproductive Health Act in the Assembly again, and hopefully helping to advance it in the state Senate. A particular budget agenda item which we hope to deal with in the budget, and if not we will continue to try to deal with after the budget, is protecting safety net hospitals. The state’s various aid programs for hospitals are not very well targeted to get money to the hospitals that have the most serious financial need. Next, again in no particular order, is strengthening the medical marijuana program. I will be focusing on three issues there. One is to repeal the list of specific conditions for which medical marijuana can be used. There is no other drug that I know of that the law lists the conditions it can be used for. Secondly, today, only physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants can certify a patient for medical marijuana use. I think it makes sense that any practitioner who, under law today, can prescribe controlled substances ought to be able to certify a patient for medical use of marijuana as long as the treatment for the condition is within that practitioners scope of practice. The third piece deals with the current business model of producing, distributing and retailing, or dispensing, of medical marijuana. Today, all the licenses that have been issued require the registered organization to grow, process, distribute and dispense the product. There is almost no industry where we allow that degree of vertical integration, and certainly no industry where we require it. The next item is the New York Health Act, my single-payer bill. We will, I hope, pass that again in the Assembly as we have in the three years before. And our goal will be to continue to build support for that around that state. The last item is the Medical Aid in Dying bill that would allow an adult patient with decision-making capacity who is dying from a terminal illness to get a prescription for medication that would end their life. I think that legislation is very morally compelling for New York and I hope we can at least get it to the Assembly floor and pass it.

C&S: How would you assess the state of health care in New York based on what you’ve seen?

RG: It’s mixed. We have some of the finest health care providers, some of the finest physicians and hospitals in the country, but millions of New Yorkers still every year go without health care because they can’t afford or they suffer financially to get that care. Many of our nursing homes provide care that is well below national averages and well below standard. Our systems for inspecting nursing homes are really lacking. We need to invest a lot more of our resources into primary and preventive care, which is very difficult to do in a world where health care is controlled by insurance companies.

C&S: You mentioned your single-payer bill you would like to pass through the Assembly again. Why is that the best way forward for New York to go in in terms of health care?

RG: I believe that no New Yorker should go without health care or have to suffer financially to get it. To use the president’s term, that only gets complicated when the system is focused on the care and financing of insurance companies. And as long as our system is rooted in insurance companies, we will be spending tens of billions of dollars on, necessarily, on insurance company and health care provider administrative costs. You will have insurance companies taking thousands of dollars out of families’ pockets for premiums and deductibles and co-pays without any relation to ability to pay. And insurance companies telling us which doctors and hospitals we can go to, and which services they will pay for. To me, that’s no way to run a health care system. And I don’t know any alternative to a single-payer system that can work.

C&S: And you have seen support for that grow since you first introduced it?

RG: Oh, enormous growth and support, particularly in the last several years, because people have seen that while the Affordable Care Act made a lot of improvements, it still leaves us in the hands of the insurance companies with enormous problems. So people who thought maybe reforming the insurance system would do the job, now see that that really still leaves us falling way short. And it’s also clear that whatever health policy comes out of Washington is going to make things worse in New York, whether it’s for insurance or Medicaid or Medicare. So more than ever, people realize that, whether you call it improved Medicare for All, or single-payer, is really the only answer, and that we have really no alternative but to pursue that at the state level because it’s clearly not coming from Washington any time soon. And so we are constantly picking up more community organizations. There are activists all around the state having meetings with their state senators, there are more unions supporting the bill than ever before, so the issue really is moving forward more than I’ve ever seen.

C&S: Do you have any concerns for what is happening on the federal level, such as cuts in spending or other kinds of legislation that might affect health care in New York?

RG: Their efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act will undermine insurance in New York. They are already implementing cuts that are hurting the program called the Essential Plan, which is a subsidized health care program for people whose incomes are a little above Medicaid. And there will be more devastation coming to Medicaid any day now. And their next target will be Medicare. Republicans have had their eye on trashing Medicare since it was enacted in 1965. And that will be coming next. And all of that will be ripping money out of our health care system and putting more burden on out-of-pocket spending by New Yorkers who can’t afford it.

Dr. Mitchell Katz (NYC Health + Hospitals)

MITCHELL KATZ, President and CEO, New York City Health + Hospitals

C&S: What are the problems you’re facing at Health + Hospitals and what are your plans to address them?

MK: I believe, like the nuns, that there’s no mission without a margin. And so while my career has been dedicated to taking care of people who don’t have insurance, I’ve always done that by billing insurance for people who do have insurance, and attracting insured patients to my systems. Currently in Health + Hospitals, in most of our centers, we are still sending away insured patients, not providing the services that are better remunerated. This doesn’t come from a bad place, it’s sort of the history of public hospitals, that public hospitals like ours generally started before Lyndon Johnson’s Medicaid and Medicare in the ’60s when nobody had insurance. And so nobody billed and that was fine. But gradually, public hospital systems have learned how to bill and how to attract and keep paying patients, so there’s a margin to provide the care to the people who don’t have insurance. Health + Hospitals has a long way to go in that area, but this is work I’ve done in two other municipalities, and it’s well-known how to do it. And it’s a lot easier than saving people’s lives in trauma, which I’m proud my system does every day. So if we can revive a pulseless person who’s lost most of the blood volume in their body, surely we can learn how to bill insurance the way other systems do, and we are.

C&S: Could the affordable health care program that you spearheaded in California, Healthy San Francisco, work in New York City?

MK: I think that the model could work. Like a lot of other questions, it comes to participatory democracy. One of the features of Healthy San Francisco was that employers who did not provide insurance for their workers were required to pay into a fund or provide benefits or pay insurance bills. So that’s a political question as to whether or not the city would want to do that. It would have been a lot harder, maybe not impossible, but certainly a lot harder to have had the success we had in San Francisco without the employer spending requirement.

New York City Councilwoman Carlina Rivera (Ali Garber)

CARLINA RIVERA, Chairwoman, New York City Council Hospitals Committee

C&S: What has been your experience so far heading this new Committee on Hospitals?

CR: Well, it’s been educational. It’s definitely been informative as to how nuanced the issues can be. We have two other committees that are tackling issues in the health field, but we’re focused on hospitals. So what I’ve been doing is trying to meet with as many stakeholders, groups, individuals, people who are advocates, people who are retired advocates who worked in hospitals and with patients, and really try to get a broad perspective of what’s going on, how the budget, the deficit is affecting patient care, and how best we can use this committee for oversight, for investigations. But also to push forward legislation that’s going to take care of all New Yorkers. My focus is to really dive deep into Health + Hospitals, but also bring in our private partners. This is a very big network, I say it’s the most important public system in the city, and I want to make sure we’re talking about the underinsured, the insured, the undocumented and all of the people who are so dependent on the system. So again, it’s going to be a focus on the public system, but bring in our private partners as well. And it’s been eye-opening. There are a lot of people working on different campaigns, local, citywide and of course statewide, so I’m trying to, again, meet with as many different people as possible, other elected officials who are chairs of their own committees in their own legislative bodies, and then of course labor and community leaders that do the work.

C&S: Based on some of these meetings that you’ve been having, what is the most pressing issue when it comes to Health + Hospitals?

CR: I would say that would be DSH funds, Disproportionate Share Hospital programs, and that’s the funding to hospitals that treat the poorest New Yorkers. And also the risks from Washington, the threats of cuts to this very important care, these programs, the charity dollars and the way they’re distributed amongst the public and private systems. But when I talked to people, undoubtedly, one of the first things that comes up is DSH. I think it’s also about how are we going to address a billion-dollar deficit and keep 11 major hospitals open? We have the mayor’s commitment that he will keep these facilities open, but how are we going to look at underutilization in terms the spaces in these brick-and-mortar facilities? And how are we going to generate revenue? I had a really great conversation with (President and CEO of Health + Hospitals) Dr. (Mitchell) Katz, along with some of the committee staff here at the Council, just to get a little preview of some of the issues that we’re going to be going over next week. And he has some basic, I think, fundamental outlook on how to make sure we’re getting the reimbursements that we’re not getting, and to implement a more efficient system, and getting paid for the services we’re providing.

C&S: Dr. Katz is also new to Health + Hospitals, and you’re the new head of a new committee. What is that like, to have everyone who’s now trying to tackle this problem be fairly new? Is that detriment or is it good to have a lot of fresh ideas coming in?

CR: I think that’s it, you took the words right out of my mouth. I think it’s great to have fresh ideas. I think it’s good to have someone with a different perspective. He’s coming from tackling a similar issue in another major city. I come from more of the community-based care perspective. My work in Healthy Aging has been working with seniors, with very low-income families in accessing health care and navigating the Affordable Care Act. Though my experience is limited and his is incredibly comprehensive, I’m really excited because it just allows for a clear break from past issues and mismanagement, and I think that’s going to be something that’s going to be important to looking at the health care system in a different lens.

C&S: Was this a chairmanship that you had wanted? And how did you feel when you received it?

CR: Yes, of course. I think I’ve said this before, that I think that making this its own standalone, full committee, it shows the needed urgency for such an important issue. I did mention my interest to the speaker. We’re very aligned when it comes to our beliefs and values and the things we want to achieve in terms of our agenda for the City Council. So we talked a lot about health. We talked about some of the work that he had done, how I wanted to continue that work in terms of the legislation and the policy he put forward, and then bringing my own ideas based on my experience. So this was something I was interested in, and when I was assigned to it, I was very, very excited. I know that I have him for support, I have a great committee staff here and lots of advocates throughout the cities.

Legislative Gazette: Bill sponsor says religious support is ‘next step’ for passing aid-in-dying bill

By Katherine Carroll, 2/21/17

Aid in Dying legislation received momentous support from religious leaders of various denominations Monday, urging passage of the proposal, which 67 percent of Americans support, according to a survey by Life Way research.

The bill, (A.2383/S.3151) proposed in January by Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, D-Scarsdale, and Senator Diane Savino, D-Staten Island, would allow for a mentally competent, terminally ill patient with a six month prognosis or less to request a lethal dose of barbiturates from their doctor. The medication would allow them to choose the time and place of their passing, before their pain becomes too unbearable or they become a burden on their families.

Savino is confident that religious support is the “next step” in passing the legislation. “Aid in dying is not something everyone would choose, but it’s a choice everyone should have, no matter how or where you worship,” she said. “I’m a Catholic, and my faith is important to me, but allowing patients, their families, and doctors to discuss a safe and compassionate way to end their suffering is important to me and millions of New Yorkers.”

Press-Republican: A right to die

By Robin Caudell, 1/25/17

PLATTSBURGH — Amanda Cavanaugh was among the supporters of Monday’s Medical Aid in Dying Act for 2017 (S.3151/A.2383), which was reintroduced to New York lawmakers in Albany.

“The first step in the state of New York is to pass through the Assembly Health Committee,” said Cavanaugh, who is the outreach manager for Compassion & Choices New York.

“Once it’s approved, then it goes to the Codes Committee. Then, it will go to the full assembly for a vote.”

Syracuse Post-Standard: Physician-assisted suicide takes step forward in NY

By Jim Mulder, May 24

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Efforts to legalize physician-assisted suicide in New York took a step forward Monday when the Assembly Health Committee for the first time approved a bill that would let dying patients get medication to end their lives.

The committee approved the legislation by a 14-11 vote, setting the stage for a possible vote by the Assembly and Senate next year.

Richard Gottfried, D-Manhattan, chair of the Assembly health committee, said several assisted suicide bills have been introduced over the past 25 years, but this was the first one to come before the committee. He said he was “pleasantly surprised” the committee approved it.

“More than ever people are focused on the concept that we each ought to be in control of our bodies and our lives,” Gottfried said. “I think that basic proposition combined with real compassion for people who are suffering made the difference.”