NHLP Resource Center Launches Iowa Substitute Decision Making Initiative

Iowans, especially older Iowans, whose decision making capacity is impaired due to dementia or other conditions, may need a substitute or surrogate decision maker to make decisions about matters such as health care, personal care and finances. The National Health Law and Policy Resource Center’s new initiative on substitute decision making is directed at strengthening and improving the formulation and implementation of public policies and laws to assist and protect older Iowans and other Iowans who suffer impairment of their decision making capacity.

Iowa Office of Substitute Decision Maker De-funded

During the 2009 legislative session, the Iowa General Assembly, facing budget shortfalls, cut the budgets of state agencies, including the Department on Aging (formerly the Department of Elder Affairs). As a result the Office of Substitute Decision Maker, which was established as a unit of the Department of Aging in 2007, lost its funding and ceased operations on July 1, 2009. In the short period from 2007 to 2009, it compiled a record of significant accomplishments. It was a major source of information to Iowans seeking assistance with problems concerning substitute decision making; it provided education about substitute decision making to Iowans, and it intervened on behalf of older Iowans and other Iowans lacking, or alleging lacking, decision making capacity, in guardianship and conservatorship proceedings in Probate Court.