Published October 20, 2008
Q and A on assisted suicide and Oregon Health Plan
Got an e-mail from a reader who said she saw a reference in one of my articles to Oregon's Health Plan reminding a woman that it covers assisted suicide. While I've never made such a reference, the story is true. The Oregon Health Plan does pay for assisted suicide if a patient requests it. So far, 19 people have used the state-paid version over the 10 years the Death With Dignity Act has been in effect in Oregon. That's out of 341 people who have used the law in total.The actual story, often referenced by opponents of I-1000 in Washington, involves Barbara Wagner, a cancer patient in the Eugene area. She was turned down for a new round of treatment by a private company running the Oregon Health Plan, and in the same letter, the company said the plan would cover pain medication and assisted suicide. This was quite offensive to Wagner, and her ire was reported in the Eugene Register-Guard. She received treatment for free from a drug company, and the state ordered its contractor to stop sending such letters.I have a paper copy of the Register-Guard's article, but did not find it online. The Seattle Times talked to Wagner and mentions her in this article.