August 25, 2001
"The Painful Truth of Hospice" (August 20, 2001) provides a much needed
public alert. It's warning about financial pressures on hospice
organizations compromising patient care must be heeded by all of us. One HMO I know of
restricts funds available for home health care, including hospice, to a
meager $1,000, total. This same HMO fully funds assisted suicide as an
alternative to medical care in my state of Oregon. This is the only state
that allows assisted suicide; but inadequate hospice care can lead to desperation
and suffering anywhere.
Responsible hospice organizations should welcome
the clear light your article sheds on a serious problem. Any conscientious
medical organization wants to recognize problems and correct them, not hush
them up. Thanks to USA Today for responsible reporting on this subject of
life and death importance.
N. Gregory Hamilton, M.D.
Physicians for Compassionate Care