Current healthcare system is immoral, bioethicists say

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If healthcare reform truly involved “death panels,” would bioethicists support it?

Of course not. And they are making their case that it’s the current healthcare system – not any of the proposed changes – that fails to meet ethical standards.

Here’s how the Assn. of Bioethics Program Directors sums up its position:

The current state of health care is unethical. It is neither just nor fair. There is no morally defensible reason why some Americans get excellent medical care at costs they can afford and other Americans lose their homes or go into bankruptcy attempting to secure treatment for a seriously ill loved one. The current proposals being debated in Congress all go a long way towards making health care in America more just. At the same time, there is nothing in the current proposals that threatens a patient’s right to choose, a critical feature of an ethically acceptable health care system.

On their website, the bioethicists refute three widely circulating “myths” that proposed changes to the healthcare system would bring about unethical results. The most egregious of these myths is that the government would curtail medical spending by allowing bureaucrats to decide which patients are too sick to save.

For more on the ethics of healthcare reform, check out this conversation with ABPD President-elect David Magnus.

“It’s very, very frustrating for all of us … to see all these misleading things being said that actually hamper our ability to be able to do a better job of helping patients at the end of life,” said Magnus, director of the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics.

-- Karen Kaplan