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Does the U.S. Need to Ration Costly End-of-Life Care


  • Published: 2010-03-16 (Revised/Updated 2011-03-31) : Author: National Press Club
  • Synopsis: Should the government spend less on costly end-of-life procedures and instead use these resources to care for more patients.

Controversial Issue to be Focus of Miller Center National Debate...

With skyrocketing Medicare costs contributing to record-setting budget deficits, does the United States need to ration costly end-of-life care? This compelling topic will be the focus of an upcoming debate produced by the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia, in partnership with MacNeil/Lehrer Productions and The National Press Club.

The debate will take place at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, March 24 at 7:00 pm ET. It will be webcast live at www.millercenter.org and air later on PBS stations across the country.

Debaters include:

Ken Connor, Chairman, Center for a Just Society, Gov. Jeb Bush's Attorney in Terri Schiavo case

Marie Hilliard, Director of Bioethics and Public Policy, National Catholic Bioethics Center

Dr. Ira Byock, Director of Palliative Medicine, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Author, "Dying Well"

Arthur Caplan, Director, Center for Bioethics, University of Pennsylvania

Susan Dentzer, Editor-in-Chief of "Health Affairs" and a "PBS NewsHour" analyst, will moderate the debate.

With more than one-fourth of Medicare expenses going to medical treatment in patients' last year of life, debaters will argue what, if anything, the government should do to contain costs. Should the government spend less on costly end-of-life procedures and instead use these resources to care for more patients? Would it be better to ration by choice and let patients and their doctors decide on end-of-life care, such as living wills and pain management? What would be the social implications of a rationing policy? Would the government be deciding who is worth saving and who is not

This debate will be followed later this spring by debates on the cost of college moderated by Ray Suarez, senior correspondent for "PBS NewsHour" and on the impact of the Internet on democracy moderated by Robin MacNeil of MacNeil/Lehrer Productions.

The Miller Center of Public Affairs is a leading nonpartisan public policy institution aimed at bringing together engaged citizens, scholars, members of the media and government officials to focus on issues of national importance to the governance of the United States, with a special interest in the American presidency.

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