Please, Mr. President, Recognize National Healthcare Decisions Day.

I have written another letter to the President, requesting an official proclamation regarding National Healthcare Decisions Day.  My fingers are crossed that this year, our 5th, will finally be the one that enjoys Presidential recognition.  And why shouldn’t it?  After all, providing public education about advance directives, education to staff, and forms to patients is required of all hospitals, nursing homes, hospices, and home health agencies that participate in Medicare.  Similar requirements apply to surgery centers and dialysis facilities.  Furthermore, NHDD got an initial boost in 2008 with proclamations in both houses of Congress as a result of bipartisan support.  And, yet, the President has never joined them.  Now is the time.

In this election year, we are likely to see several ideological battle lines being drawn, but the need for advance care planning is something we should all agree upon and it shouldn’t fall victim to politics.  To be sure, all of us will age and we must think about our healthcare futures.  Many of us will experience situations that prevent us from communicating.  Most of us will assist a family member or other loved one deal with such a situation.  Regardless of what one’s choices in such situations may be, we can all agree that knowing and honoring an individual’s choices is of critical importance.

Therefore, once again, I’m asking the President to recognize NHDD for all the good that it does, to help keep discussions about advance care planning well above the political fray, and to lead by example by publicly signing his own advance directive.

Nathan Kottkamp, Founder and Chair of National Healthcare Decisions Day