Health Policy Issue, Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

Page 1: Overview:

Physician assisted suicide, or euthanasia, from an ethical perspective requires many moral factors. Caregivers must be conscious of a patient’s pain level, personal wants, religion, as well as their quality of life, before they make a decision on whether to withhold or end treatment (Harklute, 2011). Ethicists analyze in depth the concepts of morals, virtues, and beliefs as they relate to distinguishing between killing a patient and letting them die. It is understood that if the patient is kept alive through the use of machinery like medical life support, ending treatment is not recognized as the equivalent to euthanasia or physician assisted suicide. Euthanasia is the act of a physician knowingly administering a lethal injection dosage of drugs to a patient, or assisting the patient with a suicide (Harklute, 2011).

Studies show that euthanasia is increasing in popularity in the U.S., and that the beliefs and values many hold to be their religious faith or ideology has very little bearing on how they perceive having the choice to die on their own terms. The conflict that arises comes with policy and the nature of the healthcare industry. Many fear that if the government is able to nationalize euthanasia, then there will be nothing standing in the way to ethically distinguish between a death to protect someone against themselves, or the act of ending life for the good of others. There is also a great moral and ethical dilemma in regards to whether it’s morally better to put someone suffering out of their misery or to force them to live through the use of medical machinery. One author notes, “The principle of justice demands the protection of certain rights, even when doing so may conflict with the principle of beneficence: “an act which is ‘more humane’ than its alternative may be morally objectionable because it infringes rights” (Sklanski, 2001).” The complex challenges this debate presents the health care industry as well as citizens is multifaceted and in many ways impossible to solve.

Many authors address the nature of the American healthcare industry and its infatuation with profit as a flaw that makes cost a moral consideration in the euthanasia debate. The decision to cut off life support or maintain it for someone with very limit health care coverage is different from one with an extensive high-end policy, as far as the health care provider is concerned. The high cost of competition is budget cuts, or overpriced medical supplies, tort reform that requires Hospitals to pay high legal fees in case of lawsuits. The conclusion is the recognition that nationalized euthanasia will bring about a radical change where life is economized. While physician assisted suicide is legal in three states and euthanasia is illegal, Morone’s view of American healthcare policy suggests that legalizing euthanasia on a national level could literally result in a health system forced to estimate the dollar value of ending or sustaining human life, on a daily basis.

Page 2-4: Analysis of Beliefs, Morals, or Values:

In instances where there must be an end of life ethical decision, such as euthanasia, or neonatal euthanasia, whether it’s due to medical negligence by the hospital or as a result of the patient’s own natural health conditions, many of the same moral issues still apply. The patient’s family, or the patient them self in some cases, must decide on their fate. If it’s the fault of the hospital it could be viewed as different from a standard euthanasia or physician assisted suicide of life ethical dilemma, because medical professional could feel an extra sense of obligation, or even be held legally responsible to provide care. In these instances the hospital must decide how much blame they are willing to take, while the patient and the family of the patient must deal with the unexpected permanent consequences of actions that were out of their control. For the deciding individual, they are put into the position of making a decision that they may regret for the rest of their life.  The family ultimately can be affected by losing, or in the case of neonatal euthanasia gaining a member, which at times could mean the difference between keeping a family closely knit or tearing them apart. For the hospital involved the moral factor that comes into play involves the actual responsibility the hospital is willing to take for the mistake which they look at on a fiscal level, but the cost of care is still a significant moral situation, as Sklanski notes, “Costs of treatment: A second possible moral consideration, in addition to the potential for personhood in the strict sense, is the cost of treatment in terms of financial resources. We live in a world where resources for medical care are limited, and resources devoted to one patient, at some level, may mean resources unavailable for another (Sklanski, 2001).” The dilemma suggested here is that a Hospital can have a patient who is surviving solely through life support, either by the patient’s own circumstance, or through the fault of the hospital, the medical service provider still must face the moral dilemma that proving health care is costly and that resources are scares, and as Skalanski notes providing life support for one patient mean letting another die. This puts the complexity of cost of treatment as a moral concern in a clearer perspective, but health care policy only adds more fuel to the fire.

Understanding the core value that affects issues like euthanasia comes down to understanding what drives people to live. It is genuinely recognized that a person in severe pain, or one who could not physically stay alive on their own without life support, that these individuals need specific ethical and moral considerations. “American health care policy is different from health policy in other nations (Morone, Litman & Robins, 2008).” Morone goes onto note that the difference between the U.S. healthcare system and that of other nations specifically those in Europe is much deeper than the fact that the U.S. government does not have a national healthcare system. He goes on to say, “European health policy analysts regularly invoke a “solidarity culture”—a staunch belief in sharing resources, a concern for what might be called ‘the people’s health.’…What most observers first notice about the American process is the unabashed pursuit of self-interest (Morone, Litman & Robins, 2008).” The authors argue here that the American healthcare industry as a whole is an extension of American capitalistic ideology and the morality of politics. Like most industries, the health care industry is competitive.

The truth is the same competition that makes the American medical industry one of the key locations to find An elite surgeon or an expert in a particular field of medicine, or even as a source for established medical precedence in regards to research and discovery, is also what makes health insurance unaffordable, and leads to medication errors. The high cost of competition is budget cuts, or overpriced medical supplies, tort reform that requires Hospitals to pay high legal fees in case of lawsuits.  All of these factors results in a medical industry that would rather follow outdated protocols than to invest in advanced technology that could better assist the industry out carrying out its duties. As Morone notes, “Groups pushing their own interests will stand up and oppose even the most unambiguous scientific findings. Political scientists usually view health policy through the lens of interest group politics….The entire political system lurches along, operating its celebrated checks, balancing public programs with private markets, blunting radical changes, and producing incremental adjustments to the status quo (Morone, Litman & Robins, 2008).” The problem with this mentality is that it’s completely immoral. All value is placed in the economic success of those in power. Morone identifies the nature of American political ideology as being one driven by self interests and preserving preference status over progress, innovation, or even efficiency. An example of this can be seen with example of the Houston medical facility, firing the physician for pointing out errors in practice.

In his article, “The Impact of Religious Affiliation and Religious Practices on Attitudes Toward Euthanasia,” John Pollard notes that public opinion in North America on euthanasia over the past 50 years has gradually increased in support for the option.  His research further demonstrate, as he surveyed a select group of individuals and referred to assisted suicide as passive and doctor administered euthanasia as passive. The study even demonstrated that religious factions who would be expected to vote against the options, do predominantly believe they should have the right to choose for themselves. Pollards studies prove that while belief plays a significant role in how people perceive life and death issues, it does not guarantee members of society will vote away their free will or inalienable rights. The complex nature of the relationship between the citizens and their government, when it comes to legally being able to consent to physician assisted suicide or euthanasia, is that people are naturally prone to limiting the power of the government in favor for more freedom and rights. This is specifically true of American citizens. The problem stems from the fact that even though nationalizing euthanasia coincides with popular beliefs by empowering citizens to live and die on their own terms, it also puts more control in the hands of the medical industry to promote physician assisted suicide and euthanasia ore assertively.  The fact that euthanasia has yet to be nationalized considered along with the current ethical controversies and considerations surrounding the healthcare and medical industries, makes the possibility of nationalized euthanasia a serious concern.  Policy strategy may play a massive role in the years to come.

Page 5: Policy Strategies:

Currently, as of 2011, Euthanasia is only active globally in the countries of Benelux, the Netherlands, and Belgium. It is illegal everywhere else, but Assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland only three states in the United States, specifically Washington, Oregon and Montana. Sklanski states, “If society initially allows selected cases of neonatal euthanasia, the tendency may be for the practice to expand from non-voluntary to involuntary euthanasia: “the legal machinery initially designed to kill those who are a nuisance to themselves may someday engulf those who are a nuisance to others” (Sklanski, 2001).” The ethical concern this brings to question, who is to decide who lives and who dies, and what is moral in this case? Furthermore, Morone is clear to note, the morality of the medical industry is corrupted by capitalism and this corruption is what dictates policy strategy. “As of 1998, 84% of large American hospitals had enacted ethics committees to provide consultations, not definitive rulings (Sklanski, 2001).” “Death often comes with advanced age or serious illness. More than half of all deaths in the United States can be attributed to heart disease and cancer (End of Life Care an Ethical Overview, 2005).” The study goes on to point out that when young people die, it’s usually due to accidents, homicide, suicide, cancer and heart disease, or HIV/AIDs. This means that society and health care providers as a whole are influenced in ways that can be conflicting. Often the media targets a certain form of death, or trigger for that for, like cigarettes causing cancer, or alcohol causing accidents. Usually targeting these issues has more to do with the corporation backing them than the issue itself. Likewise health care providers often benefit from promoting specific medications, or serving only those with high-end coverage.

All of these factors results in a medical industry that would rather follow outdated protocols than to invest in advanced technology that could better assist the industry out carrying out its duties. As Morone notes, “Groups pushing their own interests will stand up and oppose even the most unambiguous scientific findings. Political scientists usually view health policy through the lens of interest group politics….The entire political system lurches along, operating its celebrated checks, balancing public programs with private markets, blunting radical changes, and producing incremental adjustments to the status quo (Morone, Litman & Robins, 2008).” When all of the information is assessed for its true worth, consensus shows that the American health care and the medical industries pose as much a threat to the people they have sworn to serve as they do a common good.

Work Cited

Harklute, A. (2011, June 14). www.livestrong.com. Retrieved from http://www.livestrong.com/article/273795-moral-dilemmas-for-families-at-the-end-of-life/

Morone, J. A., Litman, T. J., & Robins, L. S. (2008). Health politics and policy. (4 ed.). Cengage Learning.

Pollard, J. P. (n.d.). The impact of religious affiliation and religious practices on attitudes toward euthanasia. Retrieved from http://www.yorku.ca/isr/newsletter/fall01/results.html

Sklanski, M. (2001). Neonatal euthanasia: Moral considerations and criminal liability. Retrieved from http://jme.bmj.com/content/27/1/5.full

“A Guide to Beginning-of-life Issues | ReligionLink.”(2012). ReligionLink. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Aug. 2012. <http://www.religionlink.com/tip_080218.php>.

“End of Life Care An Ethical Overview.” (2005) Center for Bioethics University of Minnesota. Web. <http://www.ahc.umn.edu/img/assets/26104/End_of_Life.pdf>.

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