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The president with state governors yesterday in Mérida. The president with state governors yesterday in Mérida.

AMLO proposes including assisted dying in new federal health plan

The new system is aimed at the uninsured, providing them with better access to health care and medications

President López Obrador has announced more details about a new integrated federal health system, including the news that he favours allowing voluntary assisted dying.

When someone is declared terminally ill and there are no options or alternatives, he said yesterday in Mérida, Yucatán, “it’s not enough to say, ‘OK, take the patient home.'”

“Why don’t we implement a program for dignified death? Why not assisted [dying]?”

It is not currently considered in health care in Mexico, he observed, adding “these are very important questions we have to solve together.”

Another element of the government’s new health plan is to make available the medications required by patients, a move that will entail the elimination of what is known as the basic list of medications.

Medications cannot be prescribed if they are not on the list. Instead, patients must purchase them themselves, sometimes at great cost.

The main focus of the new health program is those who have no health insurance. The two systems now in place — IMSS and ISSSTE — are for workers in the private and public sectors.

“More than half the population has no health insurance,” the president told an audience in Mérida. “So this program is for them. It is for everybody, but the emphasis is to care for those with no insurance, the poorest people.”

The uninsured will be able to obtain emergency treatment at hospitals in the two health systems, where funding and staffing will be improved, López Obrador said.

The president also intends to put all health workers on the payroll.

“This means regularizing thousands of workers who are on temporary contracts,” he said, observing that some workers have been employed on a contract basis for two decades.

“We are talking about some 80,000 workers . . . this can’t be done overnight, but we must commit to formally hiring them . . . .”

Another element of the plan is to standardize salaries and benefits.

Federal and state health workers doing the same job earn different salaries, he said.

The president announced on Friday morning that the delivery of health care services will become the responsibility of the federal government. The new integrated health system, which will cost 90 billion pesos (US $4.5 billion) to create, is to be fully implemented within two years.

Yesterday, he signed an agreement with the governors of Guerrero, Oaxaca, Chiapas, Veracruz, Tabasco, Yucatán, Quintana Roo and Campeche, the first eight states in which the new plan will be launched.

Source: Sin Embargo (sp), Milenio (sp), Associated Press (en)

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