LGBT Couples Assured Healthcare Decision-Making Equality

President Obama tells hospitals accepting Medicare and Medicaid patients that LGBT couples have equal rights.  President Barack Obama recently instructed the Department of Health and Human Services to write rules requiring that hospitals receiving Medicare and Medicaid payments must grant all patients the right to determine who can visit them and discuss their medical care – including their gay or lesbian partners.  The move was seen as a major step toward fairness for same-sex couples and impacts virtually all of the nation’s hospitals, which may not deny visitation and consultation rights on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said “This is a critical step in ending discrimination against LGBT families and ensuring that, in the event of a hospital stay, all Americans have the right to see their loved ones.”

In the words of President Obama, “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.”  The move “guarantees that all patients’ advanced directives, such as durable powers of attorney and healthcare proxies are respected.  Also uniquely affected 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 Human Rights Campaign (HRC) described President Obama’s executive order as an “important action.  Discrimination touches every facet of the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, including at times of crisis and illness,” said Joe Solmonese, HRC president.

Leave a Reply