President Obama's HHS expands hospital visitation rights for gay couples

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I'm sure President McCain would have done this faster.....

The Department of Health & Human Services on Wednesday unveiled a new policy to enhance hospital visitation rights for same-sex couples.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid sent a letter on Wednesday to states building off the memorandum President Obama issued last year mandating that hospitals receiving Medicare and Medicaid funds allow patients to designate their own visitors during a hospital stay, including a same-sex partner.

In November, HHS issued the final rule implementing Obama’s proposed change. The letter sent to states on Wednesday provides the enforcement mechanism by which state survey and certification groups can ensure hospitals are abiding by the policy.

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The guidance that will be given to state survey agencies marks the last step in implementing the change that Obama proposed on hospital visitation last year.

Additionally, the letter also issues guidance mandating that hospitals recognize advance directives designating a same-sex partner as someone who can make emergency medical decisions for a patient who’s incapacitated. The department clarifies hospitals should defer to patients’ wishes concerning their representatives — whether expressed in writing, verbally or through other evidence — unless prohibited by state law.

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