Rising budget deficits have become a principal concern of the American people in recent months, and are already a cause célèbre for politicians in both parties ahead of this year's midterm elections.
Yet the current round of healthcare negotiations has largely sidestepped one of the most costly elements in health spending: end-of-life patient care.
Ira Byock is Director of Palliative Medicine at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and Professor at Dartmouth Medical School. He is a past president (1997) of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. He served previously as Director for Promoting Excellence in End-of-Life Care (1996-2006), a national grant program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Byock is the author of numerous books and articles on the ethics and practice of hospice, palliative and end-of-life care, including Dying Well (1997) and The Four Things That Matter Most (2004).
Arthur Caplan serves as the Emanuel and Robert Hart Professor of Bioethics, Chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and the Director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
He is the author or editor of twenty-five books and over 500 papers in refereed journals of medicine, science, philosophy, bioethics and health policy. His most recent book is Smart Mice Not So Smart People (2006).
He has served on a number of national and international committees, including as the chair of the National Cancer Institute Biobanking Ethics Working Group; the chair of the Advisory Committee to the United Nations on Human Cloning; the chair of the Advisory Committee to the Department of Health and Human Services on Blood Safety and Availability; the special advisory committee to the International Olympic Committee on genetics and gene therapy; the ethics committee of the American Society of Gene Therapy; and the special advisory panel to the National Institutes of Mental Health on human experimentation on vulnerable subjects.
Dr. Caplan writes a regular column on bioethics for MSNBC.com, and he is a frequent guest and commentator on various media outlets. He is the recipient of many awards and honors, including the McGovern Medal of the American Medical Writers Association; Person of the Year-2001 from USA Today, one of the fifty most influential people in American health care by Modern Health Care magazine; and one of the ten most influential people in America in biotechnology by the National Journal.
In 2005, Ken Connor founded the Center for a Just Society, where he serves as the organization’s Chairman. Connor is affiliated with the law firm of Connor & Connor, LLC, a firm nationally known for its successful representation of victims of nursing home abuse and neglect. He served as Counsel to Governor Jeb Bush in Bush v. Schiavo, one of the country’s most watched cases in the long-running legal battle to protect a severely disabled woman, Terri Schindler Schiavo, from a court order to remove her feeding tube. Because of his advocacy on behalf of nursing home residents, the state’s Democratic Attorney General appointed him to Florida’s Task Force on the Availability and Affordability of Long Term Care.
Susan Dentzer is Senior Policy Adviser for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Marie Hilliard is Director of Bioethics and Public Policy at the National Catholic Bioethics Center. She served two terms as an elected president of both the Connecticut League for Nursing and the Statewide Steering Committee of the Coalition to Improve End-of-Life Care.
She is the former Chair of the National Advisory Council of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Hilliard holds graduate degrees in Maternal-Child Health Nursing, Religious Studies, Canon Law and Professional Higher Education Administration.