OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Changes could be made regarding Oklahoma’s health care power of attorney laws yet again if a new bill passes this legislative session.
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-District 38 to the Senate Judiciary committee on Tuesday.
To alleviate this problem, Sen. Howard has authored SB1596, along with Representative Preston Stinson, R-District 96.
“What this will do though is instead of just putting something back into a uniform act and then therefore un-uniforming it, this is creating a whole new health care power of attorney or health care agent act within title 63, which is related to public health,” said Sen. Howard. “Just a few highlights: again, any principal that has capacity will be able to name a health care agent to act on their behalf. That health care agent cannot be a witness nor can anyone related be a witness whenever that nomination is made. That agent would then be able to make any decisions that otherwise could be made for health care decisions, not including withholding artificial hydration, nutrition or treatment, life sustaining treatment, unless advance directive is also made.”
SB1596 passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday with a 8-0 vote.
“Again, oversight last year. I really think that this is a generational act that we’re putting in place that will be able to move forward, not have any changes or any discrepancies as we’re moving with helping Oklahomans nominate who they want to make their health care decisions if they’re not able,” said Sen. Howard.