Wednesday, August 18, 2021

EPC-USA opposes California assisted suicide expansion Bill

To the California Assembly Appropriations Committee

SB 380 – Eliminates existing 2025 sunset date and legislative re-evaluation option for Medical Aid in Dying (Assisted Suicide) and stops future oversight or evaluation of annual reports about assisted suicide requests and their outcomes, in particular the impact on Medi-Cal’s budget.

Dear Chairperson and Members:

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition USA opposes euthanasia and assisted suicide, instead supporting positive measures to improve the quality of life of people and their families. We are aging and disability advocates, lawyers, doctors, nurses and politicians.

We are asking you to let SB 380 die in your committee. California’s MAiD legislation should be evaluated for its impact on youth suicides and the associated costs to your state budget. SB 380 would preclude such a study.

Suicide Contagion and Assisted Suicide (MAiD) Laws

Publicity or knowledge about suicide leads to more suicides and attempts. When Marilyn Monroe killed herself, the suicide rate went up 12%. When people experience a personal suicide loss they are 65% more likely to attempt suicide than if they experienced a natural death. For every person who dies by suicide, another 30 attempt suicide. This particularly impacts teens and adolescents. Because youth are far more likely to attempt than commit suicide, the medical costs for this group can be significant, some of which is funded by Medi-Cal. Overall, California had avoided the upward trend in suicide seen in other states, but that may have changed

Because suicide is contagious, publicity that details incidents or normalizes suicide like the many news stories about Brittany Maynard leads to more suicides. Legalizing Assisted Suicide is a way of normalizing suicide, a way of saying suicide solves your problems. When assisted suicide web sites provide drug regimens and encouragement, people like 25 year old Shawn Shatto die. The heartache and sadness of her mother is beyond words.

Research about completed suicides in Oregon, Washington, Vermont and Montana found legalizing assisted suicide was associated with at least a 6.3% increase in the rate of suicide deaths. The study reported:
PAS [Physician Assisted Suicide] is associated with an 8.9% increase in total suicide rates (including assisted suicides), an effect that is strongly statistically significant (95% confidence interval [CI] 6.6%--11.2%). Once we control for a range of demographic and socioeconomic factors, PAS is estimated to increase rates by 11.79% (95% CI 9.3%--14.1%). When we include state-specific time trends, the estimated increase is 6.3% (95% CI 2.7%--9.9%)When it comes to medical costs for suicide and attempts, 28.4% are paid by Medicaid, on average, because many on Medicaid have mental health diagnoses; another 24.8% are incurred by the uninsured.
Cost Shifting to Medi-Cal due to Availability of Assisted Suicide

An additional cost to Medi-Cal could come from people whose insurance stops covering certain treatments due to the availability of Assisted Suicide. Dr. Brian Callister of Nevada says he was stunned when insurance would not cover life saving treatment for his patients who were transferring to states, including California, where Assisted Suicide is legal. Some of those people could turn to Medi-Cal to get their treatments paid for.

In closing, I urge you to consider the costs to families who lose their youth to suicide, the contribution of those suicides to inequity and the costs to your state’s economy and budget and then let this bill die in committee.

Sara Buscher, Chair
Euthanasia Prevention Coalition USA

No comments: