Senate Passes Medical-Aid-in-Dying Measure

March 1, 2020, 1:00 PM HST · Updated February 29, 1:23 PM
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Photo credit: Hawaiʻi Senate Majority.

The Hawai‘i State Senate today overwhelmingly passed on third reading SB2582, SD1, authored by Senator Roz Baker (D-South and West Maui), which aims to improve access and options for terminally ill patients seeking medical-aid-in-dying (MAID).

“This bill will ensure that all terminally ill persons in Hawai‘i will have access to the full range of options for end of life care no matter where they reside or what licensed healthcare or primary care provider they use,” Baker said in a press release.

“It fosters compassionate care by giving them some sense of control over their end of life.”

The bill goes to the Hawai`i State House of Representatives for their consideration.

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The Our Care, Our Choice Act was enacted in 2018 to allow qualified patients in Hawai‘i with a medically confirmed terminal illness of less than six months to live, and possessing the decisional capacity, to determine their own medical care at the end of their life, thus allowing a terminally ill person to die in a peaceful, humane, and dignified manner.

SB2582 SD1 amends the law to increase access to care by allowing Advanced Practice Registered Nurses to participate as providers, in addition to physicians.

“Hawaiʻi’s unique geography and the State’s shortage of physicians create barriers to access for qualified terminally ill individuals,” Baker added.

“Finding a physician may be burdensome, especially for individuals on the neighbor islands.”

The bill also amends the law to reduce the mandatory waiting period for those requesting death with dignity from 20 days to 15 days, providing a more reasonable pathway for those terminally ill individuals not expected to survive.

“Hawaii has the longest mandatory waiting period amongst all 10 medical-aid-in-dying authorized states and the District of Columbia,” Baker said.

“Unfortunately, many terminally ill individuals die while waiting to complete the 20-day requirement.”

In addition, the bill authorizes psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners, in addition to psychiatrists, psychologists, and clinical social workers, to provide counselling to a qualified patient.

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