NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF LEGISLATION submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
BILL NUMBER: A4591
TITLE OF BILL:
An act to amend the public health law, in relation to providing for the
remote conduct of witnessing health care proxies
The purpose of this bill is to modernize certain aspects of completing a
health care proxy by authorizing various remote witnessing procedures.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:
Section one amends section 2981 of the public health law to add a new
subdivision 2-a to: authorize witnessing of a health care proxy via
audio-video technology, provided certain conditions are met; require one
adult witness for such witnessing, provided that the principal is not a
resident of an OMH or OPWDD facility, in which case two witnesses would
still be required; and authorize, for principals who do not have appro-
priate technology, to utilize witnessing via telephone, provided that
two witnesses would be required.
Section two sets the effective date.
The COVID-19 global pandemic has revealed a number of areas where barri-
ers to remote procedures should be removed. Witnessing of health care
proxies is one area where the law currently requires certain actions to
be performed in-person. While access to audio-visual video conferencing
is becoming more prevalent and commonly used, the law should be updated
to allow for such technology to be utilized in order to facilitate these
important actions in a safe, socially-distanced manner.
This bill would amend the public health law to authorize remote witness-
ing of health care proxies. Such amendments will help to protect the
public from the spread of COVID-19 by allowing for participating indi-
viduals to remain in their homes or offices when completing this actions
and modernize the law so that it is aligned with current technology.
This is a new bill
None to the. state.
This act shall take effect immediately.
STATE OF NEW YORK
2021-2022 Regular Sessions
February 4, 2021
Introduced by M. of A. DINOWITZ -- read once and referred to the Commit-
tee on Health
AN ACT to amend the public health law, in relation to providing for the
remote conduct of witnessing health care proxies
The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assem-bly, do enact as follows:
1 Section 1. Section 2981 of the public health law is amended by adding
2 a new subdivision 2-a to read as follows:
3 2-a. Alternate procedure for witnessing of health care proxies. (a)
4 Notwithstanding any provision of this section to the contrary, witness-
5 ing pursuant to this section may be made utilizing audio-video technolo-
6 gy provided that the following conditions are met:
7 (i) The principal, if not personally known to the witness or
8 witnesses, shall present valid photo identification to the witness or
9 witnesses during the audio-video conference;
10 (ii) The audio-video conference shall allow for direct interaction
11 between the principal and the witness or witnesses;
12 (iii) The witness or witnesses shall receive a legible copy of the
13 signature page, or pages, which shall be transmitted via fax or elec-
14 tronic means, within twenty-four hours of such pages being signed by the
15 principal during the audio-video conference; and
16 (iv) The witness or witnesses shall sign the transmitted copy of the
17 signature page, or pages, and transmit the same back to the principal.
18 (b) Notwithstanding any provision of this section to the contrary, if
19 a principal utilizes audio-video technology to appoint a health care
20 agent by a health care proxy pursuant to this subdivision, such appoint-
21 ment shall only require one adult witness; provided however, a principal
22 who resides in a facility operated or licensed by the office of mental
23 health or the office for people with developmental disabilities, shall
24 be required to have two adult witnesses in order to appoint a health
25 care agent by a health care proxy utilizing audio-video technology.
EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
 is old law to be omitted.
A. 4591 2
1 (c) A witness may repeat the witnessing of the original signature
2 page, or pages, as of the date of execution provided that the witness
3 receives such original signature page, or pages, together with the elec-
4 tronically witnessed copy, witnessed pursuant to the provisions of para-
5 graph (a) of this subdivision, within thirty days after the date of
7 (d) Principals who do not have access to technology which enables them
8 to accomplish video conference witnessing may utilize communication via
9 telephone to accomplish witnessing, provided that two witnesses shall be
10 required. Such communication from the principal to both witnesses need
11 not be simultaneous. Such witnesses' contact information shall be
12 provided in the document. Such witnesses shall receive the signature
13 page, or pages, or a legible copy of such page or pages, which shall be
14 sent via mail, fax or electronic means, and such witnesses shall sign
15 the page, or pages, or a legible copy of such page or pages and send the
16 same back to the principal.
17 § 2. This act shall take effect immediately.