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Fighting over Grandma's Last Dime - Hospitals, Hospice, Weisberg, and Minelli

Posted Jun 26 2010 3:59am
People spend a lot of money on medical care at the end of life.  And there is no shortage of commercial interests aiming to get a piece of that huge pie.  While hospice best meets the needs and preferences of most dying patients, some hospitals deliberately do not make a referral in order to continue capturing high reimbursement for ineffective aggressive interventions.  

This week, we see an apparent market in the assisted suicide space.  The  papers report  that Dignitas founder Ludwig Minelli is a millionaire.  This may be a result of the fact that the cost of a simple suicide at Dignitas has risen from £1,800 in 2005 to £4,500.  

Apparently, looking to duplicate this "success," Portland psychiatrist Stuart Weisberg planned to open Dignity House.   Standard fees  are $3200 and a premium package is $4400.  (The  website does state  "Dr. Stuart Weisberg is not creating this visionary service for financial profit. ")  But,  on Thursday , the Oregon Medical Board suspended Weisberg's license.  

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