June 21, 2011

New York Legislature Amends Family Health Care Decisions Act to Include Surrogate Decision-Making about Hospice Care

On June 20, 2011, the New York State Senate passed S.5259A (Hannon), a companion bill to A.7343A (Gottfried), which had previously passed the Assembly on June 17, 2011.  These bills amend the Family Health Care Decisions Act (FHCDA) to authorize surrogate decision-making regarding hospice care, regardless of whether the patient is in a hospital or nursing home.

As originally enacted, the FHCDA applied only to health care decisions regarding health care provided in a hospital or nursing home.  N.Y. Pub. Health Law § 2994-d.  As part of that enactment, however, the Legislature directed the New York State Task Force on Life and the Law to consider and make recommendations on, among other things, whether the FHCDA should be amended to apply to health care decisions in settings other than general hospital and residential health care facilities.  Ch. 8, L. 2010, §28.  On November 30, 2010, the Task Force recommended that the Legislature amend the FHCDA to include decisions regarding hospice care (“Recommendations Regarding the Extension of the Family Health Care Decisions Act to Include Hospice,” available here).  The Task Force continues to explore the legal and ethical dimensions of extending the FHCDA’s surrogate decision-making authority to other care settings.

This post was contributed by Jane Bello Burke.