OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Governor Kevin Stitt signed a bill Thursday to restore health care power of attorney in Oklahoma.
KFOR reported that the medical power of attorney would be no more as of November 1, 2021. It then became the Uniform Power of Attorney Act.
The problem with the change was that the new law got rid of healthcare power of attorneys altogether, which made it difficult for attorneys and healthcare providers to know how to proceed.
Prior to the Uniform Power of Attorney Act taking place, a medical power of attorney could allow Oklahomans a health care proxy that could help them with paying medical bills, talking to doctors, etc.
“When we adopted those, what we didn’t realize, or at least I did not realize as I was presenting that bill, was that the only place in our statute that we allowed a health care power of attorney to be authorized was within the old uniform act. So that was brought to our attention too late to fix last year,” said Senator Brent Howard, R-Altus, author of SB1596.
Sen. Howard says Senate Bill 1596, also known as the Oklahoma Health Care Agent Act, establishes requirements for health care power of attorney and allows Oklahomans to make advanced decisions about their care in case they are temporarily or permanently incapacitated.
“All citizens should be able to easily and freely nominate someone to act on their behalf in the unfortunate event that they are unable to make their own health care decisions,” Howard said. “After updating the Durable Power of Attorney Act during the last legislative session, we’ve had about a seven-month gap with no direct authorization for health care power of attorney. This will ensure Oklahomans will always have the right to designate a family member or friend to have their best interests in mind if they are unable to do so themselves.”
The bill went into effect immediately upon the governor’s signature.