Achieving LGBT Equality Through Litigation, Legislation, Policy, and Public Education

Summary & History


Policy: U.S. Health and Human Services Equal Visitation Rights

STATUS: Victory, Federal

NCLR worked in collaboration with several organizations to advocate for equal visitation rights for same-sex partners in hospitals and nursing homes. In April 2010, President Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum directing HHS to issue regulations requiring all hospitals receiving Medicaid and Medicare to prohibit discrimination in visitation against LGBT people. HHS issued regulations that went into effect in 2011.

In June 2013, HHS released official guidance clarifying that same-sex partners must be given equal visitation rights at long-term care facilities, regardless of marital status. This new guidance applies to all long-term care facilities receiving Medicare and Medicaid funding, including nursing homes and hospice facilities.

The guidance states that all patients in these facilities must be given the right to receive visitors of their choosing, regardless of whether the patient and visitors have a legally recognized or biological relationship. The guidance explicitly states that discrimination against the same-sex spouse or partner seeking to visit a patient is prohibited.

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