Courtesy of Teressa Syta
Jeanne Nau with her husband, Jim.
KPCC's health team is providing ongoing coverage of the debate over physician-assisted suicide, now that the state legislature is considering SB 128, which would legalize the practice in California. As part of our coverage, Impatient is featuring people's stories about how they or a loved one dealt with an end-of-life situation.
Today I'm sharing the story of Teressa Syta of Los Angeles, who reached out to share why she's grateful the physician-assisted suicide option wasn't available when her mother was dying.
'The best week'
In 2003, Syta says her mother, Jeanne Nau, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and given three months to live. Nau was initially determined to fight the disease, Syta recalls.
But soon, despair set in.
"She had all the symptoms of a person who was quite depressed," Syta says, adding that her mother had a hard time getting out of bed in the morning, didn't want to shower and didn't want to see anyone.
Kirti Poddar via Flickr Creative Commons
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You're definitely going to need affordable health insurance if you're indulging in these vices. Get all of the details in our best consumer-focused health stories of the week.
Affordable Care Act makes this tax season painful for many
The deadline to file 2014 taxes is right around the corner. Will you owe money because of the federal health care law?
Michelle Andrews of Kaiser Health News writes that 52 percent of people who enrolled in subsidized health insurance plans had to repay part of their subsidies (due to jumps in income). H&R Block analyzed the first six weeks of returns filed through the company, and found the average repayment was $530, she reports.
Andrews has this message for taxpayers:
"If your income or family status changes, go back to the insurance marketplace now — and as necessary throughout the year — to make adjustments so you can minimize repayment issues when 2015 taxes are due."
Courtesy of Deborah Reuter-Zsarko
Deborah Reuter-Zsarko, left, says her wife, Michelle Ann Reuter-Zsarko, needed the right to decide when to die. Michelle died March 1, 2015.
Earlier this week, I asked people to share their experiences with end-of-life choices. The post was part of our ongoing coverage of SB 128, which would legalize physician-assisted suicide in California.
We've received a lot of feedback on the legislation on KPCC's Facebook page. (You can click on "comments" to read the online discussion.)
Many people expressed their support, and described seeing a loved one die, slowly and painfully.
"I support this in memory of my mom, who endured unimaginably terrible terminal suffering from a Glioblastoma," Jennifer Harris writes. "Until you or a family member is there, you don't get it."
A few expressed concerns with the bill. "This is not our decision to say if you're ready to die or not," writes Yvette Galvan. "The only one who says it's your time is the Lord."
Keith Ramsey/Flickr (Creative Commons-licensed)
Conventional wisdom says that most people don't shop around for health care. It's generally accepted that if people do shop for care, it's a frustrating experience.
So I was surprised to read a study, released last week by the nonprofit organization Public Agenda, saying that 56 percent of Americans have tried to find out how much they would have to pay out of pocket, or how much their insurer would pay, before getting care.
That finding elicited a similar response from one of the report's authors.
"We were surprised to find that so many people had at least tried to do it," says David Schleifer, senior research associate at Public Agenda. He added, "We know that it's hard for people to find that information."
Public Agenda surveyed 2,010 adults last summer for the report, called "How Much Will it Cost?" The findings paint a picture of who is currently shopping around for health care, and what it will take to convince more people to start comparing health costs.
In January, state legislators introduced SB 128, a bill that would legalize physician-assisted suicide. If passed, California would become the sixth state in the country to give the terminally ill the option of ending their life.
KPCC's health team is going to be covering this issue closely. Here at Impatient, we want to know whether you support this legislation, and what personal experiences shaped your views on this issue.
Under the bill, patients would be required to have two physicians confirm their prognosis – six months or less to live – and find them mentally competent.
State lawmakers last considered - and rejected - this type of bill in 2007.
Eight years later, the bill remains controversial: KPCC health reporter Elizabeth Aguilera reports that proponents say the terminally ill should have the right to end their life with medication. Opponents, she says, believe the bill doesn't provide enough safeguards to prevent abuses, especially of the elderly or disabled. Some religious groups - particularly the Catholic Church - have also opposed such efforts.