Bioethicists defend health care proposals

  • Updated: August 11, 2009 - 11:51 PM

Collegiate bioethicists waded into the health-care reform debate Tuesday, declaring that "the current state of health care is unethical" and branding as false criticisms that congressional proposals would threaten patient choice or deny older Americans medical treatment.

"We felt we needed to speak up. The tenor of the debate has become quite strained and full of misinformation," said Jeffrey Kahn, president of the new, 60-member Association of Bioethics Program Directors. Kahn also heads the Center for Bioethics at the University of Minnesota.

"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," a statement from the group said.

"The current proposals being debated in Congress all go a long way toward making health care in America more just," it said. The group disputed what it called "the top three myths" about the proposals: that they would prevent individual control over health decisions, that costs would be cut by prohibiting costly treatments and that older people would be denied end-of-life care.

"This [end-of-life argument] may be the most pernicious myth of all," the statement said. Instead, a provision would pay doctors to spend time with dying patients and their families as they describe the care they want. The statement is on the group's website, www.bioethics directors.org.

WARREN WOLFE

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