(Sacramento, Calif. – June 27, 2017) The California Department of Public Health today released its first report detailing usage information during the first half-year of the End of Life Option Act’s implementation. The law gives mentally capable, terminally ill adults with six months or fewer to live the option to request a doctor’s prescription for medication they can decide to take to die peacefully in their sleep if their end-of-life suffering becomes unbearable.
“The state’s data show that even during the early months of the law’s implementation, the law was working well and terminally ill Californians were able to take comfort in knowing that they had this option to peacefully end intolerable suffering,” said Compassion & Choices California State Director Matt Whitaker. “We are encouraged to see that the state’s half-year of data supports our conclusions based on our data. We continue to work to ensure that every terminally ill Californian has equal access to all end-of-life care options, including hospice, pain control, palliative care and medical aid in dying.”
The state data shows that during the half-year from the day the law took effect on June 9, 2016 until Dec. 31, 2016, 191 terminally ill Californians received prescriptions from 173 doctors for aid-in-dying medication; 111 of those individuals (58%) decided to self-ingest the medication. The report showed that the majority of people who received aid-in-dying prescriptions were insured (96.4%) and enrolled in hospice (83.8%).
Compassion & Choices June 1 report about the first year of the End of Life Option Act showed at least 504 terminally ill adults in California have received prescriptions for medical aid in dying. It also showed about 80 percent of private insurance companies have covered the cost of medication, including Blue Cross, Blue Shield, Kaiser Permanente, Sutter, many local health plans and all Medi-Cal plans.
Compassion & Choices will continue to provide education to the public and medical professionals through its bilingual Access Campaign to ensure that every eligible terminally ill person has access to the End of Life Option Act.
California is 1 of 6 states where medical aid in dying is authorized — Colorado, Montana, Oregon, Vermont and Washington — along with the District of Columbia that represent 18 percent of the nation’s population.