Tennessee Rep. Vince Dean, R-East Ridge, pushed new healthcare legislation through the House this week. The new law will allow an adult other than the parent to make decisions regarding an un-emancipated minor’s “non-emergency” healthcare treatment.
“Speaking from experience, enabling a third party to make healthcare decisions on behalf of a minor is crucial,” said Rep. Dean. “When my daughter was diagnosed with cancer, had I not been able to make the call on her chemotherapy, I would want someone there who could.”
The bill establishes the legal order of those who can step in for a child needing “non-emergency” medical care: first, a non-custodial parent; second, a grandparent; and third, a competent adult. Current state law does not allow anyone other than a parent or guardian to make a healthcare decision on a minor’s behalf.
Rep. Dean indicated he was first approached by St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to carry the bill through the House.
“It is very rewarding to help St. Jude correct a problem that has hampered their ability to treat children,” said Rep. Dean. “When children travel to St. Jude seeking care from outside the state or country, they can now receive treatment, even if their parents are absent.”
The House approved the bill with a 93-1 vote. The Senate passed the bill unanimously at the beginning of the month. It will now return to the Senate for a minor amendment to the bill’s language.
“Passing bills like this is the very reason I am here serving in the Tennessee General Assembly,” said Rep. Dean. “St. Jude was there for me and my family, and I am proud to be there for them now.”
Rep. Dean is seeking the Republican nomination for Hamilton County Criminal Court Clerk. The primary election is May 6, and early voting begins on April 16. The general election is Aug. 7.