Panel on financial, ethical dimensions of health care to be held April 8 at Ripon College

The financial and ethical dimensions of health care today, especially as it pertains to end-of-life treatment, will be addressed during a panel discussion Friday, April 8, at Ripon College. The discussion will be held from 4:15 to 5:45 p.m. in Kresge Little Theatre, East Hall, and is co-sponsored by the Center for Politics and the People and the Department of Biology.

The panelists will be:

  • Jackie Clark, associate professor of sociology at Ripon College, who teaches Sociology of Health and Medicine
  • Paul Hutchison, MA, of Chicago, Illinois, pulmonary and critical care medicine, Loyola University Medical Center, and a specialist in medical ethics
  • Sean Smith of Lake Forest, Illinois, pulmonary critical care, Lake Forest Hospital-Northwestern Medicine
  • Katherine Vergos of Ripon, Wisconsin, chief operating officer, Ripon Medical Center
  • Brian Smith, professor of religion and Charles and Joan Van Zoeren Chair in Religion, Ethics and Values, will chair the panel. Mark Kainz, Department of Biology, will give a brief response to the conversation.

    Refreshments will be served in Wensink Lounge after the discussion.

    Today, there is growing concern among Americans about steadily rising medical costs. Some blame doctors for ordering too many unnecessary procedures — especially during end-of-life treatment for the terminally ill — and recommend more stringent monitoring by insurance companies and hospital administrators to ensure cost-effectiveness.

    Do costly treatments for terminally ill patients contribute to rising health care expenses in the United States? Whose role is it to limit the use of expensive treatments, and what is the process by which they should be limited? What role should public policy play given the large part of the budget that entitlements represent, with Medicare now spending almost half of its annual funds for procedures done during the last six months of life? Medicare now reimburses physicians for advance care planning conversations. How is this working in practice? Will it be successful?

    These questions have both financial and ethical implications, but too often politicians and media may not provide adequate information or reasoned argument for citizens to make informed decisions about them. This panel aims to help fill this void.


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