There are a slew of states that have Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) programs available. We chose to focus on California’s program because of a critical e-mail alert we recently received from long-time pro-life activist Camille Giglio.
Giglio reports that California senator Lois Wolk (D-Napa) has a bill currently being considered in the state legislature. It is SB 1357, the POLST Registry Act. Giglio reports that this bill would make it mandatory that long-term care facilities and hospitals provide everyone seeking entrance to the facility a POLST form to sign along with instructions on completing the form. The bill also creates a statewide registry listing all POLST signers. The POLST form would be handed to all applicants by entities dealing with healthcare, including emergency medical teams (ambulances).
Please note that in California the EMTs are not required to provide immediate response for requests to resuscitate the patient if he has a signed POLST form!
Further, according to Giglio, “The back side of the POLST form, using small print, advises that physicians and other lower echelon healthcare providers are authorized to complete and sign a POLST form for the patient if that healthcare person deems it to be beneficial for that patient.”
That alone should kill the bill!
And to make matters worse, POLST forms are given to many patients who are not terminally ill, and many of these patients are told that their signature on the form is mandatory even though signing is supposed to be voluntary! It is the experience of a growing number of patient advocates that more often than not the POLST form, or something similar, is tied to arguments in support of palliative care, which is supposed to be treatment that relieves pain, not treatment that results in death.
In addition, Giglio explained that “palliative care is cost saving to the medical industry and to the government. It is also becoming a very competitive industry with several facilities offering hospice and/or palliative care contained in one city. It is a financially profitable industry to those running the programs.”
The devil is in the details.
When experts like Elizabeth Wickham, Ph.D., describe palliative care as the vehicle used to drive patients down the “third path,” they are not far off. Once the idea of palliative care is sold to unsuspecting people in need of treatment for severe pain or a critical illness as the road to a pain-free life, the dominoes are set in motion to use the tools of the trade to usher the ill out of life, not just their pain.
Wickham writes, “The Natural Law, which values respect for each life as a unique gift from God, is etched into our hearts by our Creator. Through education, prayer and surrender we can identify and resist the moral pitfalls placed in our way by ‘third path’ proponents who are working to create and institutionalize a palliative care paradigm that does not adhere to the Divine Plan. This will require vigilance and firm adherence to moral principles.”
It was once said that one of the motivations behind Obamacare was cost saving through denial of what some define as futile procedures or tests for various groups of patients. Another term for this at the time was healthcare rationing, as explained at a Congressional hearing last year.
Taken in that context, it is easy to see how the POLST form becomes the most popular vehicle on the third path—a path paved by palliative care providers on the journey toward that very real goal of cost cutting that results in premature death for the infirm, the terminally ill, and the disenfranchised.
Caution! Watch what you sign!