Fine says big strides can be made through this simple requirement, though he acknowledged in an opinion piece recently in the Arizona Republic that making it so could develop into a hot-button political issue—see my note about "death panels," above.
But it's not, he argues in a call to action for his fellow hospital and health system leaders:
"Of course, there might be concern among some about the appropriateness of government involvement in making this intensely personal matter a requirement of applying for Medicare benefits. I would ask these people to consider the fact that the completion of these documents preserves and strengthens individual choice, keeps the highly personal discussion about dying within the privacy of the family and has the real potential to save tens of billions of dollars," Fine says. "This issue plays out in our institutions. We own it. Let's start the dialogue with our elected leaders to fix the problem."
If it took a column deadline to force me to take a hard look at my own mortality.
It'll likely take this proposed requirement to make the two thirds of Americans who don't have an advance directive pay attention. Unfortunately, things like this are ripe for political hay to be made, and as a result, implementing such a common sense requirement is among the things Congress is worst at.
Let's hope the urgency of the healthcare cost problem might surmount those potential hurdles, and get this done. Fine could certainly use other healthcare leaders' support.