Several months ago I told you about an effort in the Arizona Legislature to make living wills and similar health care directives more accessible by making it possible to post them on a web site. That site now exists. The address of the site is http://azsos.gov/adv_dir/. It is maintained by the Arizona Secretary of State and is known as the Arizona Advance Directive Registry.
The Arizona Advance Directive Registry allows on-line storage and retrieval of living wills, health care powers of attorney, and mental health powers of attorney. The registry can be accessed by hospitals and other health care providers using a user name and password supplied to them by their patient. The patient obtains that information at the time that the patient stores their document in the registry.
The idea behind the web site is to make it easy for health care providers to locate and refer to living wills and powers of attorney executed by their patients. Currently if the patient does not give such documents to the health care provider, the health care provider doesn’t know about the documents and can’t act on the directions contained in the documents.
I wonder if this site will really accomplish much. The site does not make it possible to create the documents on line, although it does have some links to downloadable forms and more information about the documents. The site only allows you to post your documents and make them accessible on-line once they have been executed. In other words, you still have to follow the legal steps for validly executing a living will, health care power of attorney, or mental health power of attorney. You also must give your user name and password to your doctor (or anyone else you want to have access to your documents.)
The good news is that, despite the impression given by the discussions of these issues that appear in the news whenever a difficult situation arises, there need not be an administrative mess, nor is the law confusing when it comes to making and implementing a living will and a health care power of attorney. The Arizona statutes that specify how these documents are to be prepared and executed make it very clear what they can include, how they are to be signed, and how to have them correctly witnessed and notarized.
The statutes are also quite clear that health care providers and others who make good faith decisions as directed or authorized under a valid living will or health care power of attorney are immune from being held financially or criminally responsible for the consequences of those decisions. To put it simply, it is not a crime or grounds for a lawsuit to carry out an instruction in a living will to withhold or withdraw life support.
The law in matters of “right to die” is still not absolutely clear in all circumstances. Much progress has been made, however, in clarifying the methods by which a patient’s desire to refuse medical treatment can be made legally enforceable. A living will and a health care power of attorney that are drafted, signed and witnessed according to the specific guidelines of Arizona law are effective in virtually all circumstances. Anyone who wants to have the ability to refuse medical treatment can and should make those desires known, and make them enforceable. with a living will and a health care power of attorney.
It seems to me, however, that making sure the documents are available to health care providers after they are executed is much less of a problem than getting the documents prepared and executed in the first place. If our lawmakers want to take a step that could really address the problem, perhaps they could consider adopting a system that would allow electronic creation and execution, as well as storage and retrieval, of living wills and health care powers of attorney.
SOME PERSPECTIVE ON THE
“SUBPRIME LOAN MESS”
Since I gave you last month the nuts and bolts of what a foreclosure actually is, and since the rise of foreclosures is still very much in the news (although, like most such things, it’s probably not as prevalent as you might think from the attention it’s getting), I thought I’d give you some commentary on the situation. So, without further comment from me:
From an article in the Baltimore Sun last month, via Instapundit.com:
Politicians have also been a key factor behind pushing lenders to lend to borrowers with lower prospects of being able to repay their loans.
The Community Reinvestment Act lets politicians pressure lenders to make loans to people they might not lend to otherwise – and the same politicians are quick to cry “exploitation” when the interest charged to high-risk borrowers reflects that risk.
The huge losses of subprime lenders, some of whom have gone bankrupt, demonstrate again the consequences of letting politicians try to micro-manage the economy.
Yet with all the finger-pointing in the media and in government, seldom is a finger pointed at the politicians at local, state and national levels who have played a key role in setting up the conditions that led to financial disasters for individual home buyers and for those who lent to them.
While financial markets are painfully adjusting, and lenders and borrowers are becoming less likely to take on so much risky “creative” financing, politicians show no sign of changing.
Why should they, when they have largely escaped blame for the disasters that their policies fostered?
In short: housing prices, like all real estate, can go down as well as up, and it’s not possible to legislatively repeal the rules of economics.