A standing-room only crowd on Capitol Hill saw something rare in Washington -- both Houses of Congress, members from both parties, think tanks from the left and the right, and a technology company came together to support bipartisan legislation. The Medicare Choices Empowerment and Protection Act is supported by legislators from both parties in both the House and the Senate.
Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), the bill’s original Senate co-sponsor, told the audience that solving this problem was the unanimous, top recommendation of the panel of physicians he convened when first running for Senate. Congressman and registered nurse Diane Black (R-Tenn.), leading the effort in the House, made it clear her interest is to make sure that all people’s wishes are known, regardless of what they say, in a healthcare system that can quickly find a person’s documented thoughts and respect those wishes, even during catastrophic circumstances.
The Medicare Choices Empowerment and Protection Act, additionally co-sponsored by Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), also a physician, and Representatives Mike Thompson (D-Calif.), Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.), instructs the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to incentivize its beneficiaries to create electronic advance directives so they can be found and used during a health emergency.
“This bill makes an extraordinarily difficult conversation that many Americans choose not to have just that much easier," said Senator Coons. "It is about human dignity and individual empowerment.”
Former Acting CMS Administrator Kerry Weems spoke about this legislation being “unfinished business” from his time at CMS. “We identified the problem and saw the advantages of a solution in which all beneficiaries create their emergency, critical, and advance care plans, but we couldn’t figure out how to make it happen,” said Weems. “Fast forward, and we are now in the digital age, and we can solve this the right way. Every day we don’t encourage all Americans to create their plan and keep it relevant and updated, is a day our healthcare system loses a chance to respect the voices of the people it is designed to serve. I truly hope private sector health insurance plans will follow suit and help their beneficiaries get their voices heard just as this bill does for CMS.”
Healthcare policy expert David Kendall of Third Way reflected on his personal experience using the MyDirectives digital platform. His mother was empowered to document her health care priorities several years ago. And now as her Alzheimer’s disease progresses, he, his family and her healthcare providers are comforted in knowing there is clarity about his mother’s care.
With consumer users in all 50 states and more than 30 countries, the MyDirectives platform – available to the public for free at MyDirectives.com and MyDirectives MOBILE – is the world leader in digital emergency, critical and advance care planning. Hospitals, electronic health records and health information exchanges can integrate real-time connectivity to the MyDirectives database to help locate plans created and updated by consumers.
What can you do? Call, email or write to your Senators and Members of Congress and ask them to support Senate Bill 2297 and House Bill 4059.