Gay Partners Gain Medicare Hospital Visitation Rights

Wednesday, December 01, 2010
Langbehn-Pond Family
The Obama administration is in the final stages of approving new rules requiring hospitals that accept Medicare and Medicaid to grant visitation rights to same-sex partners. The regulations, developed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), prevent hospital staff from denying visitation to anyone for non-clinical reasons.
“Basic human rights—such as your ability to choose your own support system in a time of need—must not be checked at the door of America’s hospitals,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “Today’s rules help give ‘full and equal’ rights to all of us to choose whom we want by our bedside when we are sick.”
The new rules will also affect widows and widowers who have been unable to receive visits from a friend or companion. In addition, members of some religious groups will gain the right to designate someone other than a family member to make medical decisions.
The rules will go into effect 60 days after they are published in the Federal Register.
The change was first announced in April. It was followed by a period of public review during which health officials received thousands of comments from patient advocates, hospitals and other stakeholders before finalizing the regulations.
-Noel Brinkerhoff


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