On January 18, 2011, new hospital visitation regulations go into effect that require all hospitals participating in Medicaid and Medicare programs 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.
The new regulations are a result from President Obama’s presidential memorandum in April 2010 directing the Department of Health and Human Services to develop regulations protecting hospital visitation rights.
Regulations require hospitals (from HRC’s Hospital Visitation Guide):
- to inform each patient of his or her right to receive visitors whom he or she designates, including a domestic partner
- to not restrict or limit visitation rights based on sexual orientation and gender identity, among other factors
- must ensure that all visitors have full and equal visitation rights, consistent with a patient’s wishes.
While these new federal regulations are a great step forward for LGBT hospital visitation equality it’s important to note there are other medical decision making areas that are not protected unless an individual has prepared the necessary legal documents. Many state laws governing medical decision making defaults to biological family members or marital laws. Since there is marriage inequality in most of the U.S. LGBT individuals are not protected. Even if you are not in a committed relationship, you want to make decisions about your own life and future without unwanted intrusions from others. By planning now you can feel comfortable that you, your family and your future are taken care of exactly the way you envision.
If you want to designate a person to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to do so or state your wishes regarding the withholding or withdrawal of life-sustaining procedures under certain circumstances you will need to prepare an Advance Directive for Healthcare or Living Will.
Not planning, means letting someone else plan for you. LGBT individuals need to be proactive to ensure that their plans for the future reflect their own wishes and are not dictated by laws that do not fit your life and relationships or individuals who are not involved in your life and relationships.
Do not put off preparing legal documents as we never know what can happen. LegalOut can help you avoid putting off creating legal documents. LegalOut’s online resource center provides the LGBT community with affordable legal document solutions. We provide easy-to-use tools for customizing your documents online, in the privacy of your own home, at your own pace and provides hundreds of do-it-yourself legal documents including living wills, domestic partnership agreements, power of attorney documents, last will and testament, and many others.
By planning now you can feel comfortable that you, your family and your future are taken care of exactly the way you envision.