Bioethics Blogs

DEATH PANELS BACK IN THE NEWS

John Carney

At Least in the Land of Oz for People with Hepatitis C

Death Panels are back in the news, at least in the Land of Oz (i.e., Kansas). This time the target seems to be assigned to a group of conservative legislators from Kansas recommending that patients in need of expensive medications for an infectious disease should be denied them if they don’t adhere to their regimens or follow physicians recommendations regarding lifestyle changes. 
During the special hearing conducted by the KanCare Oversight Committee on Tuesday, December 29, the Committee approved (by voice vote) a resolution not to cover the cost of the medications for noncompliant patients. Two members of the Committee strongly objected to the Committee’s recommendation, The Wichita Eagle reported.
A week later on Tuesday, January 5, Ron Sylvester of the Hutchinson News assigned the Death Panel” label to the legislators’ effort in publishing this editorial.
Ironic how the tables have turned. The original Death Panel label was assigned to a non-existent provision in the Affordable Care Act. While we can hope this claim to be apocryphal as well, it deserves to be examined as did the one in 2009.

Provider-Patient Relationship Interference

Hepatitis C medications work, but they are expensive. People who have the disease are often subject to stigmatization because of the infectious nature of how the disease is usually transmitted. Often, people harbor the illness in a dormant state for years and are never tested. Many may transmit it unknowingly through a variety of ways, including contaminated needles. In some cases, however lapses in infection-control procedures are at fault, such as those that occur through manicures, pedicures, piercing, tattoos and sports.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.