Putting Pen to Paper to Make it Official...

Not one, not two, but FIVE state proclamations (and counting) have been issued declaring April 16, 2011 as National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD). Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, New Mexico, and Virginia have all officially recognized NHDD. That’s a great accomplishment and we would like to extend thanks to all those who had a hand in making it possible. But, we can’t help but think that something’s missing. What’s missing, you ask? A Presidential Proclamation!

But, it’s not for lack of trying. In fact, earlier this year, NHDD Founder and Chair Nathan Kottkamp sent a most heartfelt letter to President Obama requesting the issuance of a Presidential proclamation declaring tomorrow National Healthcare Decisions Day. Though Nathan’s letter and request have gone unanswered as of today, we are holding out hope. Hope that even if no proclamation is issued from the White House this year, with your help and your pleas in concert with our own, we will get a Presidential proclamation for National Healthcare Decisions Day 2012!

Why are we hopeful that a strong rally around NHDD will result in a Presidential proclamation next year? With the announcement of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) new joint initiative—Partnership for Patients –early this week, it’s clear that the Administration is attempting to invest in the empowerment of patients. The mission of the Partnership for Patients is to ‘help improve the quality, safety, and affordability of health care for all Americans.' What is more empowering to patients than taking stewardship of healthcare decisions now for the medical unknown later? Simply put, nothing! As a community, we know that advance directives are key to accomplishing the goals set forth by HHS and CMS in this new initiative. And, we’re working to bring that to the attention of these government agencies and officials.

Together, we can raise the profile of advance care planning and by extension, National Healthcare Decisions Day—the one day dedicated to educating people about the importance of the advance care planning process. When we do, President Obama and White House staff will undoubtedly be paying attention and see the need for a Presidential Proclamation officially declaring April 16th as National Healthcare Decisions Day. So let’s come together and set our sights on a National Healthcare Decisions Day Presidential proclamation for 2012 and continue doing the work necessary to claim it!

Photo from The White House