Shumlin: “No comment” on Steve Kimbell’s remark that Physician Assisted Suicide can help curb healthcare costs

By Angela Chagnon

In a July 18 interview with the Addison Independent, BISHCA Commissioner Steve Kimbell offered some controversial suggestions to control the cost of healthcare in Vermont. The article, written by Angelo Lynn, reads:

“Passing a law that allows physicians to help end a patient’s life under very controlled circumstances, known as “death with dignity,” is one such measure that could help (an effort was tried this pass session but postponed until next year).”

Kimbell went on to suggest “approving some type of rationing measures, as Oregon has done, that help control health care costs.”

“This has not yet been talked about in Vermont in terms of the current debate, but should we, for example, provide extraordinary end of life measures in surgery, such as heart transfers, for 92-year-old patients? Where do we, as a society, draw the line and how can we work together with our providers to craft an appropriate policy that satisfies both the medical community and extended families of the patient? Citizens of the state need to give the medical community, and family members, permission to focus on a person’s quality of life, not just their longevity, when making decisions of what is appropriate care for terminally ill patients.”

True North Reports asked Governor Shumlin what his thoughts were about Kimbell’s comments during the governor’s weekly press conference held on Thursday, August 11.

“You know, I’d have to see the comment but it doesn’t sound like the Steve Kimbell I know,” replied Shumlin.

When quotes from the article in question were read to him, the governor responded, “I’m not going to comment because I wasn’t part of the conversation. All I can tell you is I do not believe that Death with Dignity is a way to control costs. Death with Dignity is a way to give people with terminal diseases who know that their life is going to end in the next three or four weeks a choice of suffering in great pain, or finding a way to end that suffering. It’s not about cost, it’s about human dignity.”

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