By Healthy Living News
Visiting your same-sex-partner in the hospital without a bureaucratic hassle just got easier thanks to new government regulations. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced new enforcement of rules that protect hospital patients’ rights to choose their own visitors during a hospital stay, including a visitor who is a same-sex domestic partner. The rules update enforcement of the health and safety standards for all hospitals that participate in Medicare and Medicaid.
The new federal directive is for State Survey Agencies which conduct on-site inspections of hospitals on behalf of Medicare & Medicaid. The directive highlights equal visitation and representation rules which state agencies will now have to enforce.
“This announcement is another step toward equal rights for all Americans, and it is another step toward putting the patient at the center of our health care system,” said Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Donald M. Berwick, M.D. “All patients should be afforded the same rights and privileges when they enter our health care system, and that includes the same opportunity to see their significant other.”
The rules protecting domestic partner visitation rights were originally added in November of 2011. These updated the Conditions of Participation (CoPs), the health and safety standards Medicare and Medicaid participating hospitals must meet. Before that, some domestic partners had limited legal rights when visiting a hospital that received Medicare & Medicaid funds. The visitation rules apply to all patients of those hospitals even if they are not on Medicare or Medicaid.
According to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, “Couples take a vow to be with each other in sickness and in health and it is unacceptable that, in the past, some same-sex partners were denied the right to visit their loved ones in times of need,”
The CoPs visitation rules require hospitals to explain to patients their right to choose who may visit them during their stay, regardless of whether the visitor is family, a spouse, a domestic partner (including same-sex), or another type of visitor. Patients also have the right to withdraw that consent at any time.