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End-of-life options should be offered Print
Letters to the editor
Thursday, Aug. 13, 2009 -- 12:00 AM

To the editor:

I want to comment on the end-of-life options provision in the House bill H.R. 3200, America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009.

If a person on Medicare has not had a consultation about advanced care directives in the past five years, Medicare, under H.R. 3200, will pay for such a consultation. The consulting health care professional must provide “An explanation by the practitioner of advance care planning, including key questions and considerations, important steps, and suggested people to talk to.”

Any resulting document “(ii) effectively communicates the individual’s preferences regarding life sustaining treatment, including an indication of the treatment and care desired by the individual.”

Section 2 states that this health care professional must be a physician, a nurse practitioner, or physician’s assistant given authority by states to sign orders for life sustaining treatment. You can go to your own doctor or, if Wisconsin law allows, to a nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant of your choice.

We all hesitate to contemplate the end of our lives but we should consider choices that may need to be made if we are incapacitated by disease or accident. Doing so may save our loved ones much anguish.

Many Catholic hospitals provide this service and such services should continue, increase, and would be paid for by H.R. 3200. It would be a great benefit to all Catholics and our communities.

Bill Dagnon, Baraboo