(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Chris Coons (D-DE) today introduced S. 2240, the Medicare Choices Empowerment and Protection Act, a bill to encourage Medicare beneficiaries to create advance directives. This will allow individuals to provide clear guidance to their medical providers and family members about their health care decisions should they become incapable of speaking for themselves.
“Advance directives are a valuable, voluntary tool that offers patients the ability to protect patients’ future health care preferences or to specify someone to act on their behalf. This bill would encourage their adoption by Medicare beneficiaries and is intended to start a discussion about how best to move this policy forward. We welcome constructive comments from stakeholders to improve this plan and to better encourage the voluntary adoption of advance directives by Medicare beneficiaries that can be accessible in real-time by their physicians and hospitals.”
“Every American deserves the opportunity to live his or her final days with dignity,” Senator Coons said. “Too many Americans leave their end-of-life care to chance or to the preferences of distraught family members. This bill will help more Americans ensure they are the ones making the choices about their end-of-life care, reducing confusion and empowering more Americans to spend their final days and hours on their own terms. I am proud to work with Dr. Coburn on this bipartisan legislation and intend to work with all of my colleagues to see it become law.”
Under the Medicare Choices Empowerment and Protection Act, Medicare beneficiaries would be able to voluntarily create and register an advance directive with CMS at any time. Advance directives would be created through and maintained by outside organizations certified by CMS, and could be terminated at any time by the beneficiary. An advance directive would include any written statement that outlines the kind of treatment and care a beneficiary wants or does not want under certain conditions, and can include identification of a health care proxy.
To address concerns about confidentiality, the Medicare Choices Empowerment and Protection Act requires both CMS and outside groups maintaining advance directives to hold the highest standards for privacy and security protection as well as system functionality. CMS would only keep track of the certified organization through which a beneficiary has created an advance directive and would not keep a database of these documents. Beneficiaries would also receive a small, one-time incentive for registering an advance directive.