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iNewsource: Impossible Choice – Deciding when a life is no longer worth living

More than 4,000 people are on life support in California nursing homes. They live on special wards called subacute units, but among some doctors these places are known as “vent farms,” shorthand for the ventilators that keep so many of the residents breathing.

By: Joanne Faryon and Brad Racino

Medi-Cal, California’s program for the poor and disabled, pays for almost all of this care. Last year, payments to subacute units totaled more than $630 million. The cost has almost doubled in the past decade.

One week on life support can cost as much as an entire year of health care for the average person enrolled in Medi-Cal.

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