Dignity Digest Spotlight on July 8, 2022
Dignity Alliance Massachusetts has endorsed An Act relative to supported decision-making agreements for certain adults with disabilities (S.2848, H.4725)
Help pass S.2848 / H.4725 into law! Contact Senate President Karen Spilka [(617) 722-1500 / Karen.Spilka@masenate.gov] and House Speaker Ronald Mariano [(617) 722-2500 / Ronald.Mariano@mahouse.gov]. Urge them to enact the legislation this session.
With supported decision-making, a person with a disability or adult with a cognitive impairment chooses a group of trusted supporters to help with making and communicating decisions. The supported decision-making arrangement is documented in a written agreement making clear the roles and responsibilities of all involved. This allows people who need some support with decision-making, but do not need a full guardianship, to get the support that they need to remain independent and direct their own lives. Supporters can assist with matters including health care, finances, housing, or other issues of importance and the agreement is often accompanied by a power of attorney and/or health care proxy.
Passing these measures would allow more people in Massachusetts to use supported decision-making as an alternative to guardianship. Some families are hesitant to use a model until a law has been passed. Further, passing these measures would make it easier for people using supported decision-making when making decisions involving third parties (such as health care providers) and that there would be important safeguards to protect the model from being misused. Additionally, Senate Bill 2848 and House Bill 4725 do not take away guardianship as an option. They add supported decision-making as an additional option for those who want it, but guardianship remains available for others.