The Right to Visit Partners and Others In Medicare Participating Hospitals

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has recently issued new rules for Medicare and Medicaid participating hospitals that require written policies protecting patients’ rights to choose their visitors during a stay in the hospital.[1] The landmark rules ensure same-sex partners will have visitation rights, along with friends and other family members.[2]

The final rule set forth the following requirements.  Medicare-participating hospitals must:

  • Inform patients of their rights in advance of receiving care.[3]
  • Inform patients of their right to receive visitors whom they designate; this includes a spouse, a domestic partner (including a same-sex partner), family member or friend.[4]
  • Not restrict or limit visiting privileges on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability.[5]

The new rule comes after President Barrack Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum on April 15, 2010, calling on the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and CMS to develop requirements for Medicare and Medicaid participating hospitals to address the need for visitation rights that would not deny the support needed by inpatients during an inpatient stay.[6]

The new regulations go into effect in January 2011.[7]


[1] 75 Fed. Reg. 70013 (November 16, 2010), amending 42 CRF §482.13(2)(h) and §485.635(4)(f)
[2] 75 Fed. Reg. 70013 (November 16, 2010), amending 42 CRF §482.13(2)(h)(2) and §485.635(4)(f)(2)
[3] 75 Fed. Reg. 70013 (November 16, 2010), amending 42 CRF §482.13(2)(h)(1) and §485.635(4)(f)(1)
[4] 75 Fed. Reg. 70013 (November 16, 2010), amending 42 CRF §482.13(2)(h)(2) and §485.635(4)(f)(2)
[5] 75 Fed. Reg. 70013 (November 16, 2010), amending 42 CRF §482.13(2)(h)(3) and §485.635(4)(f)(3)
[6] http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/presidential-memorandum-hospital-visitation
[7]
75 Fed. Reg. 70013 (November 16, 2010)