By Deborah Stilt— We first let you know about PCHETA, the Senate’s dangerous palliative care bill, in December, 2019. Thanks to your phone calls and emails, the bill was removed from the US Senate HELP Committee’s agenda. Now it is back. You helped stop this bill before—it’s time to do it again.
Palliative care, while touted as improving the quality of life for people with serious illness, has become dangerous—and deadly. Too many people are abused or “helped” to die, instead of being cared for so they might live well in the time they have left.
Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin recently reintroduced the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act (PCHETA) to the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. This version of the bill, S. 4260, is nearly identical to last session’s S. 2080.
On Tuesday, September 18th, the pro-euthanasia group Hospice Action Network called for phone calls and emails to U.S. Senators, asking them to support PCHETA. They see the bill for what it is—a step further down the path of legalized “aid” in dying, a goal they wish to pursue.
Another leader in the “medical aid in dying” movement, Compassion & Choices, embraces PCHETA as death-oriented, treating assisted suicide and euthanasia as palliative care options.
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition USA (EPCUSA) warns:
“Palliative care defined by hospice and insurers is focused on cost-cutting. Quality and comfort take a backseat to profits, with a disparate impact on low income patients and people of color. We believe people should be empowered to live well with chronic illness without placing them at risk of hospice abuse, serious harm and even hastened death.”
Steps you can take right now to stop this bill from moving forward are at the end of this article. Please take action now.
PCHETA is inherently flawed
With appropriate medical care, most people with chronic illness will continue to live many years. So ideally, palliative care would remain in the realm of primary care where it has traditionally resided. In fact, the workforce shortage PCHETA claims it will meet disappears when the role of primary care providers who provide palliative care is taken into account.
Palliative care is oriented toward people with chronic conditions, while hospice is geared toward people who are dying. Inappropriately connecting the two pushes patients down a path toward death long before they become terminal.
PCHETA repeatedly links palliative care with hospice, but fails to mention primary care as an option for non-terminal people with chronic illness. The bill also fails to define who is eligible for palliative care. Physicians, nurses, social workers and chaplains must be dually certified in both hospice and palliative care. Currently, there is no certification for palliative care alone.
Follow the money
It is well documented that hospices are using palliative care as a “loss leader” to enroll more patients into hospice earlier. In other words, palliative care is sold below cost to attract more patients, who will later be enrolled into hospice, the most profitable Medicare benefit. Those enrolled prematurely create even more profit because they need less care.
The U.S. Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS OIG) reports that hospices are enrolling patients who are not terminally ill without their knowledge or under false pretenses. They also stated people were inadequately informed that their care had switched to hospice.
It is reported that hospice and palliative care companies have approached the heads of health care systems and proposed that through their expert symptom care, they will keep people out of the hospital. So they are expected to do just that—keep people out of the hospital. The most cost effective way to do this is to get patients to sign an advanced directive saying they prefer to stay out of the hospital. These directives typically are not conditional on the patient’s ability to recover. So when a person needs hospitalization, instead they are “made comfortable”—which often leads to death.
“They try to get people in there early before they need much care. When they start to need more care, that’s when they sedate them and they die.”
Sara Buschar, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, USA
You can make a difference
Please consider calling or emailing your U.S. and state senators to voice your opposition to PCHETA. Ask them to oppose the bill. Let them know that it is not pro-life, and it is not good medical care. Ask them to not sign on as a co-sponsor. If they have already signed on, ask them to withdraw their support.
US Senators: You can find phone numbers and email instructions here.
State Senators: Call the capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 to get your state senators’ office phone numbers.
Most importantly, protect your loved ones. When you or somebody in your family has an illness, stay with your primary caregiver and your specialist (cardiologist, etc.) Any time you are offered extra care at no cost BE SUSPICIOUS. Often, these services are not called palliative care. The marketing is very deceptive and takes advantage of the vulnerable. Stay vigilant. It could save the life of someone you love.
Deborah Stilt is the president of Personhood Alliance Education and the social media coordinator for the Personhood Alliance. She has been active in pro-life media and foster care advocacy for several years. But most importantly, she’s a California mom who is fighting against the lies of our culture and for the protection of every human being without exception.