Obama Orders Hospitals to Grant Visitation Rights to Same-Sex Partners
April 16, 2010
(ChattahBox)—President Obama forever changed the lives of same-sex couples for the better yesterday, with a stroke of his pen. He signed a memorandum to the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, mandating that hospitals grant same-sex partners of patients the same visiting privileges as family members. Additionally, hospitals will now be forced to respect the wishes of patients when they designate their partners to make critical health-care decisions for them.
The order applies to all hospitals receiving Medicare or Medicaid funding.
The gay community is pleased with President Obama’s decision. Gay partners of critically ill patients are often deprived by hospitals of visiting privileges, because they are a non-blood relative.
According to the Washington Post, Kathleen Sebelius will now deliver a set of new rules and guidelines to hospitals to ensure that gay partners can be with their loved ones in hospitals:
“Obama’s memo to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius orders the development of new rules to ensure that hospitals “respect the rights of patients to designate visitors” and to choose the people who will make medical decisions on their behalf.”
Obama said it was wrong of hospitals to deny patients the comfort of their life partners:
“Every day, all across America, patients are denied the kindnesses and caring of a loved one at their sides whether in a sudden medical emergency or a prolonged hospital stay,” he wrote.
“Affected, he said, are “gay and lesbian Americans who are often barred from the bedsides of the partners with whom they may have spent decades of their lives — unable to be there for the person they love, and unable to act as a legal surrogate if their partner is incapacitated.”
The new rules will also help hospitalized widows and widowers who have been prevented from having visits from a friend or companion.