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Kokua Line

By June Watanabe

Wednesday, January 19, 2000

Elder Law Program
can clarify issues

Question: A group of us in our late 70s and 80s was told that, as of last July, there is a new law concerning living wills and the power of attorney for health care. We also were told the new law has something called "advanced health care directive." Does the new law nullify living wills and powers of attorney which were in effect before July 1999? We also were told that the directive has a form that is to be used, but that most attorneys modify the form. What are the modifications and why? Is that form available free and can we just sign and have it notarized or do we have to get an attorney to update our living wills and power of attorney for health care? We want to get our papers in good order -- the sooner the better for us. I'm sure many other elderly people don't know about the new law.

Answer: Your best bet is to contact the University of Hawaii's Elder Law Program at 956-6544, where you can get expert advice.

In fact, the Elder Law Program is hosting a public workshop to explain Hawaii's new Uniform Healthcare Decisions Act at 1 p.m. Friday at the UH Law School, Classroom 5, on the Manoa campus.

The new law, enacted last July, replaces the living will, health care power of attorney and the health care legal surrogate laws.

Living wills are still valid.

"What the new law does is consolidate what was the living will, the doable power of attorney for health care and the surrogate decision-making law," explained Lennie Lee, a paralegal at the law school. "It combines them into one document."

The workshop can further explain the law. It also will assist people in executing their own documents.

The workshop is free but donations will be accepted at the door. Registration is required. Call the Elder Law Program to register.

Q: Our doctor bills 4.16 percent on medical services. When he accepts a lower "negotiated" fee because he participated with our insurer, should he reduce the general excise tax, too? For example, suppose the "billed fee" is $100, so the tax is $4.16. If the negotiated fee is only $75, shouldn't the tax drop to $3.12? It seems wrong for a doctor to charge tax on income they don't actually receive.

A: Yes, the doctor should add the state general excise tax only on the lower fee, said Stephen Levins, acting executive director of the state Office of Consumer Protection.

If you find you are being billed otherwise, you should file a complaint with OCP, by calling 587-3222.

In the past, OCP has taken action against medical providers for "doing something similar," Levins said. But that hasn't happened in the past year or so, he said.


At 12:45 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 14, I was returning from the post office on Saratoga Avenue, waiting in my electric wheelchair for the green light at Kalakaua and Saratoga avenues. As I drove into the marked crosswalk on Saratoga, a white car driven by a middle-aged woman turned right from Kalakaua. She saw me, but did not stop. I was terrified, afraid to reverse back, and tried quickly to go to the other side. She turned to the left to dash by, directly in front of me, to go into the left lane, then back to the right lane. Drivers, please drive carefully and not be in so much of a rush! -- M.S.


To the Pagoda employee who found and returned my daughter's wallet. I was so stunned I forgot to ask his name.-- Grateful Mom

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fax 525-6711, or write to P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu 96802.
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