SB303: Long on process; short on patient protections
Sadly, the majority of Senators sided with the medical and hospital lobbyists today and passed Senate Bill 303 that gives them more power over the lives of the ailing and disabled.
Since 2005, Texas Right to Life has tried to change the law to actually protect the rights of patients, but big medicine does not want patients making their own health care decisions. SB 303 adds several more steps in the process to withdraw life-sustaining medical treatment, but the hospital ethics committee still has the final say over the death of patients.
You helped us communicate to senators to oppose the bill, but only six paid attention. Senator Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills), Senator Glenn Hegar (R-Katy), Senator Dan Patrick (R-Houston), Senator Ken Paxton (R-McKinney), Senator Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) and Senator Tommy Williams (R-The Woodlands) stood together to protect Texans who are hospitalized.
Senate Bill 303/House Bill 1444 are being promoted as “compromise bills” even though Texas Right to Life, disability rights groups, the ACLU, and 16 other state and national advocacy organizations were excluded from discussions and the drafting of these bills.
Shockingly and in poor taste, some supporters of SB 303 launched vituperative attacks against Texas Right to Life because of our opposition to the bill, attempting to portray that we are the only organization standing in the way of this bill. We understand losing a fair fight, but when opposition impugns and exaggerates, truth is lost.
Today marked a loss for patients and a win for hospitals. We were told not to use the term “death panels,” but we don’t know what else to call a committee that decides if a patient lives or dies. “Ethics committee” is the euphemistic Brave New World legal term, which we hardly find to be appropriate.
Even though SB 303 and HB 1444 need a minimum of 15 amendments to fix all the dangerous provisions, Texas Right to Life has prioritized five that would make the bill acceptable.
Twenty-four senators ignored you and us and would not even consider our changes. The House should be a different story.
The House must make these changes to SB 303/HB 1444 to make the bills Pro-Life:
Ensure that the patient and family, not a hospital ethics committee, are the final authority on whether a DNR is issued for a hospitalized patient.
Provide a patient and the family with medical records when they receive notice that an ethics committee will discuss removing life-sustaining treatment.
Replace the four broad and subjective criteria by which hospitals remove life-sustaining treatment with protections against discriminatory practices.
Restore the imbalance in power by removing the limits on the number of family members and advocates at the ethics committee meeting (even though there is no limit on how many can be there for the hospital).
Extend transfer time to 60 days in order to give family enough time to find another facility, clear insurance red tape, and arrange for a transfer.
Click hereto see a full analysis of the Bill, current law, and the Pro-Life position.
Call the Your State Representative right now and tell him or her to vote NO on Senate Bill 303/ House Bill 1444 until the Pro-Life amendments have been added!
Tags: bioethics, legislation