Statement of NYS Senator Thomas K. Duane on the NYS Senate's Overwhelming Passage of the Family Health Care Decisions Act

February 25, 2010

Yesterday, by a bipartisan vote of 55-3, the New York State Senate passed the Family Health Care Decisions Act (FHCDA). This landmark legislation, of which I was the lead sponsor in the Senate, and which was carried to passage in the Assembly last month by longtime sponsor Assembly Member Dick Gottfried, grants medical decision-making authority to loved ones of incapacitated patients who do not have a health care proxy or clear evidence of their treatment wishes.

As todayfs Albany Times Union declared, "Lawmakers on Wednesday did something rare: They passed a piece of significant legislation that Gov. David Paterson has indicated he will sign."

As the Senate Health Committee Chair, I am proud that my chamber has passed this vitally important legislation that protects those who are incapacitated and powerless -- and I am confident Governor Paterson will sign it into law. Currently New York is one of the most restrictive states in the nation for end-of-life decision-making by surrogates, but the FHCDA eliminates the uncertainty that care-givers face when a patient is no longer able to make decisions for him or herself, assuring that the best interests of that individual are respected.

While the FHCDA will give New Yorkers peace of mind by allowing all parents, all guardians, all partners and all families the ability to make important medical decisions, I still urge all New Yorkers to designate a health care agent. You can download information about appointing a health care agent and get a health care proxy form by going to

I am grateful to my colleagues and all the advocates who helped make passage of the FHCDA possible and look forward to Governor Patersonfs signing it into law.

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