Monday, November 20, 2006

SB 628 Supported by PA Bar Assn

Last week, in conjunction with the Legislative Department of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, I prepared a discussion draft of a letter stating the Bar's continued strong support of Senate Bill 628, which is scheduled for final consideration by the Pennsylvania House on the afternoon of Monday, November 20, 2006. This letter restates that Bar's strong advocacy for SB 628 on the eve of the potential final consideration of the bill by the House, which was postponed from Wednesday, November 15th to today. See: PA House to Consider SB 628 on Wed Nov 15th

This is the letter that the PBA President, Kenneth J. Horoho, Jr., sent to State Representatives this morning.

I write to you on behalf of the Pennsylvania Bar Association to reiterate the Bar's strong support for Senate Bill 628 becoming law this session and to ask for your support of the measure. Generally SB 628 would provide a statutory framework for health-care powers of attorney, surrogate health-care decision-making by a patient's representative, and out-of-hospital "do not resuscitate" procedures.

I want to reinforce three compelling points in support of SB 628:

• SB 628 is a workable, needed statutory framework that would provide guidance to millions of Pennsylvanians on health care POAs, health care decision-making by family surrogates, and end-of-life medical decisions. It is consistent with the common law rights recognized by Pennsylvania appellate courts. It preserves personal rights, affirms human dignity, but considers medical realities in the most difficult decisions to be faced by any Pennsylvanian-the preservation or termination of life.

• SB 628 should have a significant positive economic impact on individuals and our society. Individuals need the certainty of a statute-not just basic court-recognized principles-when dealing with personal medical decisions; institutions, medical personnel, and caretakers need the certainty to conduct their activities professionally, effectively, and economically. This certainty should translate into medical dollars better spent, or, in some cases, not spent at all.

• SB 628 is the product of a cooperative discussion and resolution process involving diverse and equally committed organizations: lawyers, doctors, hospital administrators, disabled community advocates, hospice workers, government agencies, and many other organizations provided input and agreed upon a solution. The Governor's Office (through its enabling of the discussion), appreciated the common need and urged this discussion to produce a statutory framework that would address the range of concerns.

On behalf of the PBA, I thank you for your attention to this matter.


Kenneth J. Horoho, Jr.
President, Pennsylvania Bar Association
The House is now in session.

No riders or amendments yet have altered SB 628. So it can be passed by the House in the form capable of being forwarded to the Governor for signing into law.

Stand by . . .

UPDATE ON 11/20/06:

SB 628 was adopted by the House 191-0. See: House Passes SB 628!