Friday, April 04, 2008

April 16 = National Healthcare Decisions Day

The American Bar Association promotes, on its web page dedicated to Aging issues, the upcoming "National Healthcare Decisions Day", scheduled for Wednesday, April 16, 2008.

That ABA web page describes the upcoming day of recognition, and then offers online resources:

On April 16, 2008, join Americans across the country to talk to others about their future healthcare decisions and to complete your advance directive!

National Healthcare Decisions Day will help Americans understand that making future healthcare decisions includes much more than deciding what care they would or would not want. It starts with expressing preferences, clarifying values, identifying care preferences, and selecting an agent to express healthcare decisions if patients are unable to speak for themselves.

The National Healthcare Decisions Day initiative is a collaborative effort of national, state, and community organizations, including the ABA Commission on Law and Aging, committed to ensuring that all adults with decision-making capacity in the United States have the information and opportunity to communicate and document their healthcare decisions. * * *

Planning for this first annual event was announced last Fall. On October 18, 2007, PR Newswire had posted a press release entitled "National Healthcare Decisions Day Set for April 16, 2008", noting that "numerous national organizations [had] already committed to participate."

Although several states have engaged in advance directives awareness events and numerous organizations have devoted substantial time and money to improving education about advance healthcare planning, only a small minority of Americans have executed an advance directive.

National Healthcare Decisions Day seeks to address this issue by focusing attention on advance healthcare planning from a variety of directions simultaneously. * * *
The upcoming Decisions Day was noted on the Elder Law Prof Blog on February 9, 2008, in a posting entitled "National Health Care Decisions Day is April 16".

As listed on the NHDD website, the list of 68 "participating organizations" is formidable. However, there is no Pennsylvania liaison listed, nor any Pennsylvania-specific organizations (although many of the national organizations have offices or a presence here).

The NHDD website also suggests resources for an advance directive, including:

Specifically for Pennsylvania, one dedicated Internet resource exists -- the PA HealthCare DecisionMaking wiki.

I constructed it, beginning in December, 2006, to teach courses for the
Pennsylvania Bar Institute and other organizations about the then-new Act 169 of 2006. I update it periodically.

For background about the enactment in 2006 of Act 169 and for commentaries about it afterwards as a replacement Chapter 54 of Title 20 of PA Consolidated Statutes, read the many EE&F Law Blog postings categorized under the topic "Healthcare Directives".

You can obtain the Pennsylvania statutory model of a new combined advance care directive & "Living Will" from the PA Department of Aging (PDF, 9 pages), from the PA Department of Health (PDF, 9 pages), or on the PA HCDM wiki, under Section 5471 of the Act, which contains the form with links to other statutory sections.

I find it fitting that April 16th was selected as the day to promote advance health care instructions
nationwide. It follows April 15th -- the individual income tax return filing deadline for American taxpayers.