Vet Widow Records Video Urging Congress to Allow Terminally Ill Vets to Use VA Insurance to Cover Medical Aid in Dying

March 27, 2023

Veteran Had to Borrow $2,100 to Pay for Medical Aid in Dying Because Federal Law Prohibits VA Insurance from Covering It

(Los Angeles) To honor her first Veterans Day without her late husband, Sgt. Matt Fairchild, Ginger Fairchild has recorded a video urging Congress to repeal an antiquated federal law prohibiting VA insurance from paying for medical aid in dying so terminally ill Veterans can peacefully end unbearable suffering. The video is posted at bit.ly/MattFairchildYouTube.

Matt Fairchild, a retired Army Sergeant, Gulf War, and Navy Veteran, died on Jan. 21. He suffered through nearly a decade of chemotherapy, radiation, hospitalizations, and surgeries in a valiant attempt to cure his skin cancer that spread to his brain, bones, and lymph nodes.

matt fairchild in army decorated uniform 2011

Sgt. Matt Fairchild in Army uniform

 

White man sitting in a cream colored chair with tubes coming from his arm, covered in blankets with a blonde woman with glasses and a yellow cardigan smiling next to him.

Matt in hospital with Ginger Fairchild

“Matt loved all of us. Matt loved life,” says Ginger Fairchild in the video that is posted on Compassion & Choices YouTube channel. “But he couldn’t live the way he was… having the medical aid in dying for Matt saved him so much more suffering … It was just such a blessing after he had suffered so much.”

Sadly, a 1997 federal law prohibits Veterans and other Americans who live in Washington, D.C. and 10 states where medical aid in dying is authorized (California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont, Washington) and who depend on federally-funded insurance programs (e.g., Medicare, Tricare) as well as medical facilities (e.g., Veterans Administration facilities) from covering medical aid in dying.

As a result of this unjust restriction to access this end-of-life care option, the Fairchilds had to borrow the money to pay for the physician visits required by California’s End of Life Option Act to qualify for medical aid in dying, as well as the medication, a total of $2,100.

“It was a lot of money, so we have generous friends who helped,” says Ginger Fairchild in the video.

In contrast, many private insurance policies as well as the state-funded portion of the Medicaid plans in CaliforniaHawai‘i, and Oregon cover most of the substantial cost of medical aid in dying, including the clinician appointments to establish if the person requesting it is eligible and the medication.

But Millions of Veterans and other Americans who depend on federal health insurance like Medicare, Medicaid, and Tricare cannot afford to pay for medical aid in dying out of their own pockets. That’s why Ginger Fairchild and Matt’s best friend, Petty Officer 2nd Class Jason Vazquez, a critical care nurse and Navy Veteran who served with Matt in the Gulf War, want Congress to change the law.

 

jason vazquez matt fairchild

Jason Vazquez and Matt Fairchild in their younger days

“Because of the restrictions, he wasn’t able to get the VA to help him. They did help him a lot, but when it came to the Medical Aid in Dying, their hands were tied,” says Jason Vazquez, RN, MSN, CCRN, in the video. “It’s time for those laws to…revised or amended in some kind of way.”

“Congress has an ethical and moral duty to right this grave injustice, especially to terminally ill Veterans who risked their lives to defend our country and deserve a peaceful death, by repealing this discriminatory federal law,” concludes Ginger Fairchild.

Compassion & Choices
Media Contacts

Sean Crowley
Media Relations Director
[email protected]

Patricia A. González-Portillo
National Latino Media Director
[email protected]
(323) 819 0310

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VICTORY: Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed the improved End-of-Life Options Act.

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