WASHINGTON – The National Right to Life Committee applauded the introduction today, in both the Senate and House, of the “Medicare Choices Empowerment and Protection Act.”
The companion bills would give Medicare beneficiaries and others online access to model advance directives that choose life-saving treatment, food and fluids equally with those that reject them. The bills would require they be told, “You should not feel pressured to violate your own values and preferences, and you are entitled to implement them without discrimination based on age or degree of disability.”
The bills would help offset widespread efforts to “nudge” patients to agree to forego life-saving treatment documented in National Right to Life’s March 2015 report “The Bias Against Life-Preserving Treatment in Advance Care Planning.”
“The pro-life movement has been concerned that advance care planning is too often used, in an effort both to cut health care spending and advance the ‘quality of life ethic,’ to ‘nudge’ people to agree to reject life-saving measures (including assisted feeding) using unbalanced, distorted, and even false data,” stated Burke Balch, J.D., Director of the Robert Powell Center for Medical Ethics.
“By contrast, the legislation National Right to Life is endorsing would create and promote a government website that gives a choice of alternative advance directive forms, including those that direct treatment and assisted feeding, like our group’s ‘Will to Live,'” Balch said. “It would ensure that the online providers of advance directives to be promoted by Medicare must ensure their documents comply with State laws, including statutes that contain important informed consent safeguards.”
The Senate bill is sponsored by Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) and Chris Coons (D-DE). The House Bill is sponsored by Representatives Diane Black, R.N. (R-TN), Chris Collins (R-NY), Mike Thompson (D-CA), and Peter Welch (D-VT).
Further information is available from the National Right to Life Committee’s Powell Center for Medical Ethics at www.nrlc.org/medethics/advancecareplanning/