HEALTH CARE PROXY
New York State convened a "Task Force on Life and the Law" in 1985 to study and develop public policy on a range of controversial and difficult issues that fall under the collective heading of "medical ethics." Some of the issues addressed by this task force since then have included organ and tissue donation, do-not-resuscitate orders and life-sustaining treatments.
Over the past two decades the recommendations of the Task Force on Life and the Law, which operates under the direction of the state Health Department, have led to new state laws and regulations including, in 1991, the creation of whatís known in New York as the "health care proxy."
While attention to the availability of New Yorkís health care proxy has had highs and lows over the past 14 years, thereís no question that the nationwide focus on the Terry Schiavo case has turned the spotlight on the role that a health care proxy can play in the lives of New York State citizens. Many people, for the first time, are either hearing about or finally wondering about a health care proxy. Consequently, Iíd like to take this opportunity to let you know how and where to find more information on its availability.
For anyone unfamiliar with what a health care proxy form is intended to do, itís pretty straightforward. It helps answer the question, "Who will speak for me should an illness or an accident leave me unable to speak for myself?" A health care proxy allows you to appoint someone you trust to make health care decisions for you should you become unable, even temporarily, to make these decisions for yourself. It doesnít require a lawyer. Itís cost-free. It does, however, require your careful and thoughtful consideration.
The New York State Department of Health web site provides . It offers an online form that can be downloaded and printed for use. From the right-hand column of the departmentís home page, under "Site Contents," click on "Forms," scroll down the page and click on "Health Care Proxy." From here youíll be able to access facts about the health care proxy form, as well as answers to frequently asked questions like the following:
> Why should I choose a health care agent?
> How do I appoint a health care agent?
> What decisions can my health care agent make?
> Why do I need to appoint a health care agent if Iím young and healthy?
> Who will pay attention to my agent?
These are some of the central -- and very difficult -- questions on the minds of many today.
As always, if for some reason youíre unable to access the information youíd like online, contact my office and Iíll provide a packet of Health Care Proxy information including answers to frequently asked questions and a copy of the form.
Click below on CONTACT INFO to e-mail your request.