Advance Directives: Let's Make a Law

Philip Betbeze, April 11, 2014

One of healthcare's most prominent CEOs has a great idea for cutting healthcare costs—forcing Medicare recipients to complete a living will and medical power of attorney as a condition of receiving benefits. Unfortunately, implementing common sense measures like this is among the things Congress is worst at.

All right, I'll admit it. I've been avoiding writing this column for weeks.

My thought: As soon as I've done my own advance directive, I can actually write this thing and advocate it. Until I do, I can't write the column.

The result: Life got in the way and I've been sitting on a great column for weeks.

I've been avoiding it for the same reasons most people don't write advance directives for themselves—they don't like to think about their own ultimate demise.

That's unfortunate, but entirely understandable. I'm extremely biased, of course, but I believe myself to be one of the more practical and common-sense people I've ever met (I think my wife agrees, in most respects).

But that's never filtered down to advance directives, and the fact that this column is intended to promote them, and in fact, encourage their enshrinement into law, means I'd better not be a hypocrite about it. Let me just say that the allure of a slam-dunk column provided powerful motivation, and the fact that you're reading about it now means I have done my advance directive.

Philip Betbeze

Philip Betbeze is the senior leadership editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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