(Sacramento, CA) – On Monday, May 11th, the Senate Appropriations Committee sent SB 128, the bill legalizing doctor assisted suicide in California, to the suspense file. This action represents the latest hurdle the bill is facing in addition to growing opposition as more comes to light regarding abuses of the Oregon law and impact on suicide rates.
Part of the testimony offered in Monday's hearing addressed the significant lack of state oversight and regulation in both the Oregon law and the proposed California bill.
Dr. Warren Fong, president of the Medical Oncology Association of Southern California gave testimony highlighting the fiscal impact of SB 128:
"In the short term, there will be costs to the Department of Public Health and various state licensing boards to create the regulations which will allow physicians to prescribe life-ending medication, and pharmacists to dispense it. The state will also have to consider whether, if this becomes legal, it will become a covered benefit in the Medi-Cal program. If so, physicians, pharmacists, and drug manufacturers will all have to be reimbursed for participating.
"In the long term, there will be costs associated with performing oversight of this program, which is noticeably absent from the bill in print. The Medical Board will need additional funding to review complaints against physicians who participate in this program, and local and state law enforcement may need funds to investigate criminal complaints."
Marilyn Golden of the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund also drew attention to the financial implications of the bill:
"Making sure [abuse] doesn't happen might be impossible but if it isn't, it would cost a lot more money."
The bill must move out of the Senate by June 5th in order to progress this year. If the bill fails, assisted suicide supporters like Compassion & Choices (formerly the Hemlock Society) led by former Oregon HMO executive Barbara Coombs Lee have promised to go to the ballot in 2016.
Contact: Californians Against Assisted Suicide - 916.475.4900