Should we ration medical care at end of life?

Categories: Opinion.

This debate, hosted by Intelligence Squared U.S., came at a time when presidential candidates debate health care issues in the run up to the US presidential election. 

The speakers in favour of rationing end of life care say the country cannot afford to provide unlimited health care — either the government or insurance companies have to ration services provided in the final stages of life as a policy response. Others argue that this kind of care should be the subject of a discussion between the doctor, the patient and the patient’s family. 

A panel of experts debated the motion. Arthur Kellermann, Paul O’Neill Alcoa Chair in Policy Analysis at the RAND Corp, and Peter Singer, Ira W. DeCamp professor of bioethics in the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University, argued for the motion. Sally Pipes,  president and CEO of the Pacific Research Institute, and Ken Connor, founder of the Center for a Just Society argued against the motion. 

The debate can be viewed on the Intelligence Squared U.S. website, and a transcript is available. 

According to a poll taken during the debate, which took place in front of an audience, forty-three percent of the audience started out in favour of the motion, while 22 percent were against it and 35 percent undecided. After the debate, 12 percent were against the motion and 81 percent were for it.

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