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Authors Of California's End-Of-Life Law Say Drug Costs, Access Must Be Examined


One year after California’s end-of-life law went into effect, the bill’s authors said it's gradually being accepted by patients and doctors, but can be improved.  

Former State Sen. Lois Wolk of Davis said more medical training for doctors and nurses is necessary to ensure terminally ill patients can obtain drugs to end their own lives.

“What are the medical schools doing in terms of their curriculum in California? What’s happening with the cost of drugs?" Wolk asked while speaking on Capital Public Radio's Insight

State Assemblywoman Susan Eggman of Stockton said that state lawmakers will hold a hearing later this year to study the implementation of the law.

She and Wolk said drug costs, medical training and complaints about the law and its implementation should be reviewed.

Opponents of the law, including Life Legal Defense Foundation, have sued claiming it is unconstitutional. 

Alexandra Snyder of Life Legal said her group opposes the law even if improvements are made.

But if it remains law, she said, patients should at least be required to have automatic mental health evaluations.

"That just seems like common sense to me," Snyder said. "We just don’t believe the state should be facilitating suicide.” 

Nearly 200 terminally ill people received California's end-of-life medication during the first six months of the law's existence. The California Department of Public Health released the statistics in late June. The report showed 111 people eventually used the drugs to end their life.

Of those who died, 87 percent were 60 years old or older, most were white, college educated, receiving hospice or palliative care and had health insurance, either provided by the state or private carriers.

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