By Bob Katzen
The Senate approved and sent to the House a bill creating the option for individuals with an intellectual or developmental disability, dementia or mental health diagnosis to enter into an agreement of “supported decision-making” as an alternative to traditional guardianship.
In a guardianship, the guardian makes medical, financial and other major life decisions for the person. Under a supported decision-making agreement, an individual actually makes his or her own decisions with the support of a designated person or team and his or her decision cannot be overridden by the supporters.
“I am incredibly proud that this life-changing legislation has advanced through the Senate,” said Sen. Joan Lovely (D-Salem), the sponsor of the measure. “Supported decision-making agreements maximize the dignity, freedom and independence of persons with disabilities and provide a proven, cost-effective and less restrictive alternative to guardianship … Everyone should have the opportunity to be the decision-maker of their own lives, and this legislation will empower many for whom that was not previously possible.”
“People with disabilities deserve the freedom to maintain their independence and dignity,” said Sen. Susan Moran (D-Falmouth), chair of the Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure. “I’m proud to vote for this bill to enable supported decision making for people with disabilities and take another strong step in supporting residents with disabilities in the commonwealth.”
“I have had the opportunity, as the Senate chair of Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities to meet with many individuals across our state who are both strong advocates for supported decision-making and could greatly benefit from this bill,” said Sen. Adam Gomez (D-Springfield), chair of the Senate Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities. “Supported decision-making is a no-brainer that allows individuals, including those with disabilities and elders, to maintain their rights and independence, allowing them to choose one or more trusted advisors to provide assistance in making decisions about their lives. I am thrilled that this legislation is moving forward and I know it will change many lives.”