On April 15, President Obama ordered the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to create new rules for Medicare and Medicaid hospitals that would allow patients the right to choose their own visitors during a hospital stay. The Presidential Memorandum instructed HHS to develop rules that would prohibit hospitals from denying visitation privileges on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. The memo can be read HERE.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued the regulation that will allow patients to decide whom they want by their bedside when they are sick—that includes same-sex partners, reports the White House Blog.
The new rules:
Require hospitals to explain to all patients their right to choose who may visit them during their inpatient stay, regardless of whether the visitor is a family member, a spouse, a domestic partner (including a same-sex domestic partner), or other type of visitor, as well as their right to withdraw such consent to visitation at any time.
Require hospitals have written policies and procedures detailing patients’ visitation rights, as well as the circumstances under which the hospitals may restrict patient access to visitors based on reasonable clinical needs.
Specify that all visitors chosen by the patient must be able to enjoy “full and equal” visitation privileges consistent with the wishes of the patient.
Update the Conditions of Participation (CoPs), which are the health and safety standards all Medicare- and Medicaid-participating hospitals and critical access hospitals must meet, and are applicable to all patients of those hospitals regardless of payer source.
"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," says 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, and override any objection by a hospital or staffer who may disagree with us for any non-clinical reason.”
The regulations will be effective 60 days after publication. Publication will be tomorrow morning in the Federal Register. They are officially called "Changes to the Hospital and Critical Access Hospital Conditions of Participation to Ensure Visitation Rights for All Patients."