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Hospital Visitation Policy Protecting Same-Sex Couples Takes Effect

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Same-sex couples could feel more secure about their rights in times of medical crisis as federal regulations on hospital visitation protecting them in hospital settings across the country took effect on January 18.

The new regulations apply to all hospitals receiving funds from the federal government under the Medicaid and Medicare programs for the needy and elderly. Under the regulations, hospitals may not place any restrictions on visitation based on sexual orientation. In addition, the hospitals must inform each patient of his or her right to receive visitors designated by the patient, “including, but not limited to, a spouse, a domestic partner (including a same-sex domestic partner), another family member or a friend.” Any hospital found to violate the new rules risks losing a major source of revenue.

“Today marks a step forward in ensuring same-sex couples are no longer discriminated against in hospital settings,” said Rea Carey, executive director of the?National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. “Of all the things same-sex couples have to worry about, of all the discrimination and pressures we face, not being able to see our partner or spouse shouldn’t be one of them. This new policy will have a positive impact on same-sex couples and our families throughout the nation.

“We thank the administration for taking this step,” Carey continued, “but continue to [urge them to remove all] barriers to full protections for our families, which includes repealing DOMA.” — Nancy Ford

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