Assoc. Joins with Legislators in Calling for Action to Protect End-of-Life Directives & Launches Statewide "FIX IT" Effort
BOISE, Idaho, Feb. 17, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Thousands of phone calls, letters and emails urging legislators to fix Idaho's so- called "conscience" law, which allows health care professionals to refuse to honor advance directives, have so far fallen on deaf ears at the State Capitol. Today, with legislation to correct the law bottled up in the House State Affairs Committee, chaired by Rep. Tom Loertscher, AARP joined with a bipartisan group of Legislators to send another message to state lawmakers: "Enough is enough; it's time to fix the law."
Representatives Leon Smith (R-Twin Falls), Tom Trail (R-Moscow), Elfreda Higgins (D-Garden City) and Phyllis King (D-Boise) joined with AARP members today, who told their personal stories about the importance of end-of-life directives, in calling for legislative action to protect their legal rights. Afterwards the AARP members delivered roughly 500 letters from concerned members across Idaho urging Rep. Loertscher and his colleagues to pass legislation addressing the issue.
One bill to ensure advance directives are honored is House Bill 28, sponsored by Representative Smith, which simply says advance directives should be guided by the state law that guarantees they are honored instead of by the conscience law. The bill is currently stuck in the House State Affairs Committee - other proposals call for the removal of the language in the law that threatens the end-of-life documents.
"AARP members across Idaho are outraged their state lawmakers would enact a law that leaves their advance directives in legal limbo," said Jim Wordelman, State Director for AARP in Idaho. "Idahoans don't want their legal rights messed with and this law does just that, it's time to fix the law."
Today, AARP also announced the "Fix It" campaign, aimed at engaging its members and the public in efforts to correct the law this legislative session. As part of the effort, AARP has established the Patient's Rights Hotline (1-800-232-0581), putting its members and the public directly in touch with their legislators on the issue. AARP has also taken the fight on-line, igniting its thousands of e-activists to take action, and encourage their friend and family to do the same. The Association will also hit the airwaves, print and web in the coming days to educate the public about the law and its impact, and urge lawmakers to tackle it.
"The 'conscience' law flies in the face of existing Idaho law, the Medical Consent and Natural Death Act, which is meant to guarantee advance directive documents are honored," added Wordelman. "AARP encourages its members to complete advance directives to ensure their legal end-of-life wishes are upheld, the new law is a direct threat to that."
Fixing the law is a priority issue for AARP Idaho. Prior to the passage of the "conscience" law last year, thousands of AARP members contacted their legislators urging the removal of language relating to advance directives. During election season, AARP continued to remind candidates of the importance of addressing the issue once elected, which AARP members rated as one of the most important, second only to the state budget.
AARP is Idaho's largest membership organization with 180,000 members.
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SOURCE AARP Idaho