REALity June 2018                                                                                   Ottawa, ON

Every profession and trade has its opportunists who take advantage of their position to improve their financial situation. The medical profession appears to be no different.

When the assisted suicide legislation was passed in June, 2016, some physicians jumped on the bandwagon, both to advocate for the elimination of the legal restrictions (as minor as they were) and to increase their fees for doing so.

To further these two objectives, a group of physicians met in Victoria B.C., in June, 2017, to engage in a discussion with the pro-euthanasia organization, “Dying with Dignity” to determine the “best standards of practice” for euthanasia and, of course, to agitate for more money for their new speciality of ending the lives of their patients.

It seems that their efforts in B.C. have been successful. The NDP government in B.C. announced in, May, 2018, that higher fees will be paid for physicians participating in assisted suicide, effective May 1, 2018, and that most of this increase will be paid retroactively to June of last year.

Under the former fee structure, B.C. doctors could only bill a flat rate of $200 for killing people. This fee was supposed to cover prescribing the lethal drug, picking it up from the pharmacy, spending time with patients and families explaining the procedure and obtaining final consent, administering the intravenous drug, and then filing paperwork for the coroner’s office following the death. This was too much work for too little financial return for many physicians. The new rate, however, has been increased to $280, plus an additional $125 pick-up fee for doctors to collect the lethal injection from the pharmacy. This means that, in many cases, B.C. doctors are now able to bill $405 for killing people, in addition to $114.29 for their home visit to do so ($56.21 for hospital visits). B.C. doctors will also be paid to a maximum of 135 minutes for a first assessment for death, and 105 minutes for a second assessment, with an option for doctors to apply for more funding in “exceptional” cases.

Dr. Stefanie Green, a Victoria doctor and the president of the national organization for doctors, called Canadian Association of MAID (medical aid in dying) Assessors and Providers, who provide death injections, stated that her members were “very, very happy” about the fee increases in B.C. She complained, however, that killing patients in B.C. still pays less than routine office work for a family doctor. No doubt, this discrepancy in payment will soon be overcome. B.C. already has the highest rate of assisted suicide in Canada. This increased funding will only serve as an incentive for physicians to expand their business of killing people.

Physicians no longer make house calls to assist the living by trying to comfort and heal them, but house calls are now available for physicians to kill patients, providing they are paid enough to do so.