SENATE PASSES CRUCIAL HOSPICE PROVISIONS OF FAMILY HEALTH CARE DECISION ACT
The New York State Senate gave final legislative passage to extending hospice care provisions of the “Family Health Care Decision Act” (FHCDA). The bill (S. 5259-A) sponsored by Health Chair Senator Kemp Hannon (R-Garden City) authorizes family members to make decisions regarding hospice care for patients who lack decision-making capacity, in accordance with the provisions of the Family Health Care Decisions Act.
“By enacting the Family Health Care Decisions Act legislation, which I spent many years developing, the Legislature significantly improved decision-making in New York for patients in a hospital or nursing home who lack capacity and who do not have a health care agent by giving authority to a "surrogate" decision-maker,” said Senator Hannon. “However, this bill goes a step further to provide surrogates with authority to make decisions on behalf of incapable patients regarding hospice care.”
The current language of the FHCDA does not permit a surrogate to elect hospice care for a loved one who is being cared for outside of a covered facility at the time of the election decision. Therefore, the ability of a patient without decision-making capacity to access hospice care will depend upon where care is currently provided or will be provided going forward. Giving authority to a surrogate decision-maker for hospice patients will ensure that the individual's known preferences or best interests are honored at this crucial time.
The addition of hospice also fits well into the structure of the FHCDA as it currently stands, without requiring extensive changes. Hospices are federally certified and highly regulated at the state level. The safeguards and oversight mechanisms in the FHCDA, including the procedures for determining capacity, the procedures for end-of-life decision-making, and the requirements of ethics review committees will translate into hospice settings.
This bill passed the Assembly and has been sent to the Governor.