July 16, 2007
Gaining grass-roots consensus among a broad range of community stakeholders can be a key first step to successful enactment of health legislation reform.
In Summer and Fall 2006, the Center hosted a series of weekly roundtable discussions to consider revisions to Georgia's advance directives forms and legislation, for potential introduction of a bill in the 2007 session of the General Assembly. In the wake of the Terri Schiavo case in Florida, the then-current Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care forms in Georgia had been widely criticized as hard to understand by patients and families, as well as hard to implement in health care settings.
This series of roundtable discussions was initiated at the request of Steve (“Thunder”) Tumlin, Jr., Representative, District 38, and a College of Law graduate. The legislative working group included a wide variety of representatives of the private bar, government agencies, professional associations, health care facilities, advocacy groups, and other community stakeholders with an interest in end-of-life decision-making in health care.
The committee was assisted throughout this process by Jill Travis, Esq., Deputy Legislative Counsel for the General Assembly. On behalf of the Center, Jerri Nims Rooker, Assistant Director, took the lead in convening this on-going roundtable on a weekly basis and in providing valuable research and other assistance.
The committee developed a consensus draft of a revised advance directive form, which combined into a single document provisions similar in concept and legal operation to the two forms available under then-current law. The revised form was tested at a community forum for readability and user-friendliness. It was a goal of the committee to promote Georgia citizens' advance planning in health care decisions by making the new form easier to understand and use than the earlier forms.
After final input from the community and the roundtable participants on recommended language for the new advance directive form, working group co-Chair Nikola Djuric and Rep. Tumlin provided proposed conforming revisions to the existing Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care statutes.
The proposed revised statute and advance directive form were introduced as House Bill 24 (2007), which was passed by both the House and Senate with few amendments. The bill was signed into legislation by Governor Sonny Perdue, and it is effective as of July 1, 2007. Center Assistant Director Jerri Nims Rooker has been providing informational sessions on the new form and is available to do so for legal, health care, and community groups and associations.
To download the new Georgia Advance Directive for Health Care, go to http://law.gsu.edu/clhs/files/GEORGIA_ADVANCE_DIRECTIVE_FOR_HEALTH_CARE.doc.