Today is the last day for public comments on proposed federal regulations requiring all hospitals receiving Medicare and Medicaid funding to adopt policies that protect the visitation rights of all patients, including LGBT people. As you’ll recall, in April President Obama issued a memorandum directing the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to take action to address discrimination against LGBT people in healthcare, particularly with regard to hospital visitation and medical decision-making. A draft regulation was issued in June and open for two months of public comment. After reviewing the comments, HHS will issue a final rule, which we understand will be published later this fall and go into effect at the beginning of next year. HRC staff reviewed the draft regulation and today submitted comments supporting the new rule and outlining ways in which it could be improved and strengthened.
Our comments are part of HRC’s ongoing efforts to address issues facing LGBT people in our nation’s healthcare system through advocacy in Washington, as well as education around the country. In June, HRC issued its latest Healthcare Equality Index, a review of the policies of healthcare facilities with regard to LGBT patients and families. The HEI 2010 rates 178 facilities from across the country, highlighting 11 Top Performers in four key policy areas: patient non-discrimination, visitation, cultural competency training and employment non-discrimination. Read the report and search for rated facilities near you at hrc.org/hei.