New Proposed Rules to Ensure Equal Visitation Rights for All Hospital Patients
HHS release on June 22, 2010:
WASHINGTON, DC - On April 15, 2010, the President issued a Presidential memorandum to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) calling for the initiation of rulemaking that would ensure that hospitals that participate in Medicare or Medicaid respect the rights of patients to designate visitors, regardless of whether the visitors are legally related to the patients. The President’s directive clearly instructed HHS to propose that a participating hospital not deny visitation privileges on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. It also directed that the rulemaking take into account the need for a participating hospital to restrict visitation in medically appropriate circumstances.
At the direction of the President, Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and her team at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services have been working on a proposed regulation that would ensure that patients' visitation rights are respected. They expect to display a proposed rule in the Federal Register very shortly. In advance of this proposed rule, Secretary Sebelius sent a letter late today to leaders of major hospital associations asking them to encourage their member hospitals to not wait for the formal rulemaking process to run its course before they review their current visitation policies to ensure they comport with the patient-centered visitation rights that the President has suggested.