New Hospital Visitation Regulations for LGBT Families

On January 18th, federal regulations regarding patients’ hospital visitation rights went go into effect.  These new regulations require all hospitals participating in Medicaid and Medicare programs – virtually every hospital in the country – to permit patients to designate visitors of their choosing and prohibit discrimination in visitation based on a number of factors, including sexual orientation and gender identity.

Moved by the tragic story of an LGBT family – Janice Langbehn, Lisa Pond and their children – who were kept apart as Lisa lay dying in a Miami hospital, President Obama issued a presidential memorandum in April 2010 directing the Department of Health and Human Services to develop regulations protecting hospital visitation rights. HRC has prepared a Hospital Visitation Guide.

“LGBT people experience discrimination in many aspects of their lives, but it is perhaps at its worst during times of crisis,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese.  “We thank President Obama and HHS Secretary Sebelius for recognizing the hardships LGBT people face and taking this important step toward ensuring that no one will be turned away from a partner’s hospital bedside again.”

In addition to working with the Obama administration on the hospital visitation issue, HRC administers the Healthcare Equality Index, an annual survey of healthcare policies and practices related to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender patients and their families.  For more information about the HEI, as well as resources for hospitals and LGBT patients, go to www.hrc.org/hei.

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