By Lucy Karen Clay
Let’s get rid of the fraud and waste and abuse in the Medicare system and in the federal hospice program before we put …good money after bad.
--Joni Eareckson Tada
Months ago, when I read the ALERT about Senate Bill 693—the Palliative Care and Hospice Education Training Act—from Ron Panzer (President of Hospice Patients Alliance) and Nancy Valko (a spokesperson for the National Association of Prolife Nurses), my immediate reaction was to look the other way. It was too much…too heavy...too impossible. The weight of it was far beyond anything my mind could comprehend. I do not have the expertise to begin to understand the ramifications of it all, yet my spirit was and still is screaming that this bill is potentially one of the worst threats to the lives of medically vulnerable patients that our country has faced to date. 
I found it even more challenging that those whom I assumed would be willing to speak out about it were nowhere to be found! AT LAST, Joni Eareckson Tada (Founder and CEO of Joni and Friends International Disability Center) stepped out to plead for immediate OPPOSITION while this bill, which already has been passed by the House, is still in the hands of the 23 Senators who sit on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee.
Joni points out that S. 693 will do two things.
  • Pour a massive amount of taxpayer dollars into hospice programs.
  • Fund new and much more liberal palliative care and hospice education.
Opposition to this bill is not opposition to good pain management and care provided by reputable, life-affirming healthcare professionals. However, palliative care and hospice programs often are not as advertised.
Most existing hospice programs are plagued by tremendous fraud, a gross waste of taxpayer dollars, poor quality care, rampant abuse and, according to many reports, even murder. Furthermore, this bill is supported by Compassion & Choices, an organization whose mission is to legalize assisted suicide. We definitely do not want C&C and its allies to be involved in designing the curriculum for palliative care and hospice education.
Time is running out to stop S. 693. Write to all the members of the Senate HELP Committee (https://www.help.senate.gov/about/members) as well as your state senators (https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm).
Urge them to VOTE NO on S. 693. A sample letter to senators is available at https://www.thesimplicityproject.org/thesimplicityproject/sample-letter-for-senators-to-oppose-senate-bill-693/ Scroll down to find the letter.
  • S. 693 does not define what palliative care or hospice are and what they are not.
  • S. 693 does not define what abuse of palliative care or hospice is and what penalties will be applied when it occurs.
  • S. 693 does not prohibit medical killing (i.e., “medical aid in dying,” “physician-assisted suicide,” “terminal sedation” and/or dehydration to cause death, etc.).
  • S. 693 does not set penalties for violations of the law.
Additional messages confirming that this is a dangerous bill:

About the author: Lucy Karen Clay is the founder of The Simplicity Project Wellness Initiative (www.TheSimplicityProject.org) and the newest member of the HALO Board of Advisors. Among her many titles and talents, Lucy is a life advocate, educator, speaker, event coordinator and author who provides awareness of end-of-life issues.

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