Friday, September 28, 2012

Health Laws Impact LGBT Folks

Impact of Health Law on LGBT Individuals and Families is the title and subject of a 1½ hour continuing legal education program to be held on Friday, October 12, 2012, as sponsored by the Allegheny County Bar Association, through its Health Law Section, in partnership with its LGBT Rights Committee, which was created in March, 2012Highmark underwrites the program.
A panel of experts representing perspectives from across the industry will present an assessment of the new federal healthcare reform law, FMLA [Family and Medical Leave Act], Advance Directives and Health Care Decision Making, and Hospital Visitation and Consent to Treatment for Minors and will discuss the impact of these laws on the LGBT community.
Much of this information will also apply to other non-traditional families.
This program will serve healthcare providers and their attorneys who need to be aware of the unique characteristics and challenges of LGBT individuals and families, as well as other nontraditional families, in the healthcare setting.
LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) folks, or individuals in "non-traditional" families, have drawn greater attention during the past twenty years.  In the healthcare delivery and decision-making settings, their personal expectations and interpersonal relationships often become ignored or overridden by application of statutes that grant "default" rights to others, defined by bloodline or traditional legal relationships.  

Awareness, forethought, and implementation are recommended for LGBT folks, their families, and their attorneys to overcome such hurdles.  Absent attention, planning, and documentation, an unwanted, unnecessary crisis might result.

On June 19, 2012, the federal Health and Human Services Department, through its LGBT Issues Coordinating Committee, issued its 2012 Report, entitled "Improving LGBT Health" (PDF form).  Its introduction repeated a national philosophy:
It’s at the heart of the American dream: the belief that if you work hard, if you're responsible in your community, if you take care of your family, then that’s how you should be judged.  Not by what you look like, not by how you worship, not by where you come from, and not by whom you love. 
This belief means ensuring that LGBT Americans have the same protections and opportunities as their neighbors, colleagues, and family members.  And over the last three years, this Administration has undertaken a broad agenda to do just that.”
That report highlighted two concerns, which should be addressed under Pennsylvania law at the ACBA's program:
Of critical importance for LGBT advocates is the CMS position on medical decision-making, allowing LGBT couples greater flexibility to make care decisions for their loved ones.
Similarly, it is important that LGBT patients and their families are more recognized in health care service delivery environments and approaches, including the development of a culturally competent service standard to be followed by healthcare professionals and organizations. * * *
The presenters at the ACBA program will be:
  • Robert Wolf, Esq. (Advance Directives, POLST, Healthcare Decision Making) Tener, Van Kirk, Wolf & Moore, PC; 
  • Elisabeth J. Poggi, Esq. (Advance Directives, POLST, Healthcare Decision Making) Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC; 
  • Sheryl Kashuba, Esq. (Hospital Visitation and Consent to Treatment for Minors) UPMC Health Plan; 
  • Vikram Mangalmurti, Esq. (Accountable Care Act) VP Highmark Office of Healthcare Reform; and
  • Mark Phillis, Esq. (Family and Medical Leave Act) Littler Mendelson, PC
The program will be held on Friday, October 12, 2012, in the ACBA Conference Center Auditorium, 920 City-County Bldg., 414 Grant Street, Pittsburgh PA, with registration and lunch from 11:30 AM – 12:00 Noon, followed by the presentations until 1:30 PM.

For ACBA members, the cost is $25, and for others, $60.  Registrations can be made online through the ACBA.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Organ Donation: Questions & Myths Discussed

On Friday, August 31, 2012, WITF-FM (Harrisburg, PA) broadcast a Radio Smart Talk program 50 minutes long, entitled What questions do you have about organ donation? 

The initial guest of host Scott Lamar was John Green, Director of Community Relations for the Gift of Life Donor Program, of Philadelphia, PA.  He first focused on questions and myths regarding organ donation.
For example, a study released earlier this year found that about a quarter of the respondents believed doctors wouldn’t try to save the life of someone designated as a donor.

Others thought that they couldn’t donate because they have a history of illness or that they were too old to donate.

About 80,000 people across the country are awaiting organ transplants. Some will die while they’re still waiting.
Later in the program, personal experiences were shared by a Middletown man who received a transplanted kidney, and by another Pennsylvanian whose son awaits a suitable liver transplant.

WITF's web page devoted to this particular program lists the following useful resources on the topic:
Other resources are listed on the website of the Gift of Life Donor Program.

Title 20 (the Probate, Estates & Fiduciaries Code) of Pennsylvania statutes, authorizes organ donation upon consent or direction pursuant to unique provisions not parallel to, but similar in outcome to, the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act.

Many medical and humanitarian organizations actively promote organ donation here; and most religions sanction it under certain circumstances. See: PA EE&F Law Blog postings Organ Donation in Pennsylvania (06/14/07), Uniform Anatomical Gift Act in PA Someday? (06/20/07), and Religious Views on Organ Donation (09/11/08).

A need always exists.  Successful transplants renew other lives.  Listen to the program to find out why and how.

I am both a transplant recipient and a designated donor, so I support this movement.  To learn more about organ donation in a pleasant, informative conversation, listen to the program through an online link.