READ: Presidential Memo on Hospital Rights for Same-Sex Partners

Here's the text of the memorandum issued by Obama tonight directing hospitals to allow same-sex couples visitation rights and medical power of attorney.

MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

SUBJECT: Respecting the Rights of Hospital Patients to Receive Visitors and to Designate Surrogate Decision Makers for Medical Emergencies

Obama2  There are few moments in our lives that call for greater compassion and companionship than when a loved one is admitted to the hospital. In these hours of need and moments of pain and anxiety, all of us would hope to have a hand to hold, a shoulder on which to lean -- a loved one to be there for us, as we would be there for them.

Yet every day, all across America, patients are denied the kindnesses and caring of a loved one at their sides -- whether in a sudden medical emergency or a prolonged hospital stay. Often, a widow or widower with no children is denied the support and comfort of a good friend. Members of religious orders are sometimes unable to choose someone other than an immediate family member to visit them and make medical decisions on their behalf. Also uniquely affected are gay and lesbian Americans who are often barred from the bedsides of the partners with whom they may have spent decades of their lives -- unable to be there for the person they love, and unable to act as a legal surrogate if their partner is incapacitated.

For all of these Americans, the failure to have their wishes respected concerning who may visit them or make medical decisions on their behalf has real consequences. It means that doctors and nurses do not always have the best information about patients' medications and medical histories and that friends and certain family members are unable to serve as intermediaries to help communicate patients' needs. It means that a stressful and at times terrifying experience for patients is senselessly compounded by indignity and unfairness. And it means that all too often, people are made to suffer or even to pass away alone, denied the comfort of companionship in their final moments while a loved one is left worrying and pacing down the hall.

Many States have taken steps to try to put an end to these problems. North Carolina recently amended its Patients' Bill of Rights to give each patient "the right to designate visitors who shall receive the same visitation privileges as the patient's immediate family members, regardless of whether the visitors are legally related to the patient" -- a right that applies in every hospital in the State. Delaware, Nebraska, and Minnesota have adopted similar laws.

My Administration can expand on these important steps to ensure that patients can receive compassionate care and equal treatment during their hospital stays. By this memorandum, I request that you take the following steps:

1. Initiate appropriate rulemaking, pursuant to your authority under 42 U.S.C. 1395x and other relevant provisions of law, to ensure that hospitals that participate in Medicare or Medicaid respect the rights of patients to designate visitors. It should be made clear that designated visitors, including individuals designated by legally valid advance directives (such as durable powers of attorney and health care proxies), should enjoy visitation privileges that are no more restrictive than those that immediate family members enjoy. You should also provide that participating hospitals may not deny visitation privileges on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. The rulemaking should take into account the need for hospitals to restrict visitation in medically appropriate circumstances as well as the clinical decisions that medical professionals make about a patient's care or treatment.

2. Ensure that all hospitals participating in Medicare or Medicaid are in full compliance with regulations, codified at 42 CFR 482.13 and 42 CFR 489.102(a), promulgated to guarantee that all patients' advance directives, such as durable powers of attorney and health care proxies, are respected, and that patients' representatives otherwise have the right to make informed decisions regarding patients' care. Additionally, I request that you issue new guidelines, pursuant to your authority under 42 U.S.C. 1395cc and other relevant provisions of law, and provide technical assistance on how hospitals participating in Medicare or Medicaid can best comply with the regulations and take any additional appropriate measures to fully enforce the regulations.

3. Provide additional recommendations to me, within 180 days of the date of this memorandum, on actions the Department of Health and Human Services can take to address hospital visitation, medical decisionmaking, or other health care issues that affect LGBT patients and their families. This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

You are hereby authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.

BARACK OBAMA

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Comments

  1. Obama is on the right side of this fight - more than we can say about republicans or fellow "democrats" (DINO)

    Posted by: KFLO | Apr 15, 2010 8:45:52 PM


  2. Oh god, here we go, giving the president cover as campaign time heats up because he issued a completely unenforceable letter in our favor.

    Andy, I'm a huge, huge supporter, but the gay and progressive blogs like this one misleading people - whether purposely or by accident - by not fully explaining that this is nothing more than the pretty words we've gotten from this administration from the beginning is going to make us as a community seem weak and easy to be brought.

    We have to do better.

    Posted by: Cory | Apr 15, 2010 9:29:47 PM


  3. Cory, would you rather he DIDN'T do this, then?

    Of course this is not enough: DADT and ENDA are ahead. But why bitch about everything that happens?

    Posted by: KevinVT | Apr 15, 2010 9:49:01 PM


  4. Kevin, I love that he did this. But that doesn't change the fact that once again he's just giving us nice words with zero action.

    Let's not give a man that used us then threw us and our issues under the bus for the sake of political expediency any more credit than he deserves. And let's certainly not say he's ordering U.S. entities to acknowledge the rights we should have when in fact he isn't.

    Look, when we truly get action and not just mere words for the umpteenth time I will gladly shout from the rooftops, but until then I'll continue calling things as they are without providing cover to political cowards who use then forget about us.

    Wouldn't you rather he did more than just SAY this things and actually enforce them?

    Posted by: Cory | Apr 15, 2010 10:00:10 PM


  5. Y'all might not have heard yet that TV screens nationwide will be showing next Monday night his being met with a huge, angry protest by gays about DADT when he attends a fundraiser for Barbara Boxer in L.A., but obviously ObamaRahm has.

    As noted in the later thread....supposedly this is because his heart went out to a lesbian who wasn't allowed to see her partner who died.

    But that happened TWO YEARS before he was sworn in. WHAT TOOK HIM 15 MONTHS TO GET AROUND TO THIS? Are they keeping these little boxes of cookies to only open when they need to try to calm the natives?

    NOTA BENE it only directs they "INITIATE rulemaking." At the ice-glacier speed his Administration works, hospitalized LGBTs and their loved ones won't benefit from this for months and months...just like implementing lifting the HIV travel ban took ages even tho it was waiting on his desk when he was sworn in after Bush had already signed it, and those crumbs of benefits for the partners of gay federal employees STILL haven't been implemented nearly a year after they announced them in the wake of the boycott of the DNC LGBT fundraiser.

    Now in the middle of the harshest criticism yet for his failure to keep his promise to PERSONALLY FIGHT for repeal of DADT... as the curtain is being ripped off of the ObamaRahm/Gates conspiracy to kill repeal by running out the clock....and days before that huge protest he knows waiting for him in L.A.....comes another serving of pie in the sky. At least this one's in POTUS-writing unlike his promises re DADT, ENDA, and DOMA.

    Per se, I don't have any problem with someone doing the right thing for the wrong reason. And another benefit is that it's the second time he's shown us he knows how to use a pen with lavender ink.

    NOW, when he actually shows some courage to use that pen for something that Troglodytic Senators and Generals aren't squealing about and entire organizations don't exist to stop like using his legal powers to freeze discharges which he declared months ago weaken national security and which would NOT require months and months of delays like lifting the HIV travel ban, extending minor partner benefits, and simply opening hospital doors and doctors' ears have and are, call me.

    Posted by: Michael @ LeonardMatlovich.com | Apr 15, 2010 10:09:45 PM


  6. Could this be the ENDA consolation prize?

    Posted by: Dickster | Apr 15, 2010 10:23:13 PM


  7. Cory,

    You're an idiot. This is a clear example of the President doing more than simply offering empty words. Here, President Obama has mandated that any hospital in the United States participating in Medicare or Medicaid MUST respect the rights of same-sex couples to visit their partners, and make medical decisions. This is HUGE!!!

    To date, President Obama has done more for GLBT rights than any other president in US History. I'm so sick of people like you who don't appreciate the progress that we are making with this administration. Do you think John McCain would have done anything for the gays? Hell no! Wake up and start being grateful.

    You racist entitled gays make me sick.

    OnyxEsq.

    Posted by: OnyxEsq | Apr 15, 2010 10:26:26 PM


  8. wow...this was unexpected. I honestly didn't think this would EVER happen...props, Obama, for finally doing something

    Posted by: jvogel | Apr 15, 2010 10:30:29 PM


  9. ONYX, your angry black routine got old before it started. Yawn. Please, cheapen the race card more with emotionally charged, groundless accusations.

    Posted by: TANK | Apr 15, 2010 10:40:20 PM


  10. Onyx (dear god why am I responding)...

    "This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person."

    Sigh. A very slight understanding of the legal system and a bit of common sense goes a long way.

    This is only enforceable by the government; not the individuals that's discriminated by it. Meaning, if it happens to you, you personally can't do shit. You can write the government all you want and threaten all the lawsuits in the world, but it's up to them to enforce as they cannot be forced to do so.

    This is not a mandate. This is not an order. These are words. Words that can only be enforced by the government.

    This doesn't mean hospitals that participate in Medicare/caid MUST conform, because again, it's only enforceable by the government. Point me to the last time the government was told they can't visit their dying same sex partner?

    Posted by: Cory | Apr 15, 2010 10:41:49 PM


  11. Sigh, if only the Imperial Dubya were still in office. HE would, with a stroke of His pen, change laws or, better yet, just plain ignore them. Ah, the Good Old Days.

    Obama, on the other hand, isn't so quick to ignore the Constitution and actually wants to go the route of changing the law instead of ignoring it. And people complain. The same people, more or less, who complained that Dubya ignored the law.

    Odd.

    Posted by: BobN | Apr 15, 2010 10:48:06 PM


  12. Wow --- sometimes it makes me sad how simple most people are --- then it makes me happy I am not as simple.

    Folks the issue was that THEY HAD medical power of attorney ... yet because they were homosexuals the LEGAL document that was in place was not recognized by BIGOTS in the hospital.

    Those BIGOTS broke the law because they hated the two gay women.

    The end of the memo make PERFECT legal sense.

    What the President is saying is that if people have a legal document in place --- hospital officials can not ignore them just because the people holding the legal documents are gay.

    Thus no NEW rights or laws are being created --- he is telling the hospitals to FOLLOW THE CURRENT LAW.

    Now all of you should grow up --- and if you are a same sex couple get a Power of Atty document in place - even if your state has married you.

    Posted by: walter | Apr 15, 2010 10:54:24 PM


  13. Wow --- sometimes it makes me sad how simple most people are --- then it makes me happy I am not as simple.

    Folks the issue was that THEY HAD medical power of attorney ... yet because they were homosexuals the LEGAL document that was in place was not recognized by BIGOTS in the hospital.

    Those BIGOTS broke the law because they hated the two gay women.

    The end of the memo make PERFECT legal sense.

    What the President is saying is that if people have a legal document in place --- hospital officials can not ignore them just because the people holding the legal documents are gay.

    Thus no NEW rights or laws are being created --- he is telling the hospitals to FOLLOW THE CURRENT LAW.

    Now all of you should grow up --- and if you are a same sex couple get a Power of Atty document in place - even if your state has married you.

    Posted by: walter | Apr 15, 2010 10:55:57 PM


  14. Walter I believe everyone understands that. The problem is the enforceability of such a declaration, in reality, precisely because of the way it's worded, is close to none.

    Before you tell people to grow up while sitting atop your high horse feigning intellect, you should read up on how many times power of attorney has failed for same-sex couples when hospitals refuse it. And also how many times the subsequent lawsuits by those couples are lost because THEY DON'T HAVE THE POWER TO SUE FOR THE ENFORCEABILITY OF EXACTLY THIS. And still don't.

    This only grants the government the power of enforceability. Not the individual.

    Same boat, different memo.

    Posted by: Cory | Apr 15, 2010 11:07:19 PM


  15. Dear President Obama:

    It's called "An Executive Order".

    Go ahead, use it. The last guy did and nobody really did much about it.

    Posted by: johnny | Apr 15, 2010 11:55:01 PM


  16. Oh Miss Cory Just vote fucking Republican and be done with and Tank can join you.

    UGH!

    Posted by: Chris | Apr 16, 2010 12:18:38 AM


  17. Kinda pathetic to see the last willing occupants of the ObamaRahm Borg Hive still gasping for excuses for Our Fierce Advocate's lack of fierceness, are recycling the ones that collapsed under the weight of their irrationality months ago.

    Ye Olde Plate Too Full Excuse...hmmm, he can't find three minutes to take a pen and a piece of paper to freeze discharges. It would take considerably less time than he took on ABC Evening News to fill in with a magic marker and a flip chart his predictions for various teams in the NCAA basketball tourney and less time that it took to kick off the White House Easter Egg Roll.

    Ye Olde He Can't Ignore the Law Excuse...Well, kids, that was never true in relation to DADT because some laws BY STATUTE override other laws and Congress gave the President the authority to override ANY law including DADT to stop the discharges of ANY servicemember in the name of national security.

    Last June, Obama himself said it was URGENT to end the discharges BECAUSE they WEAKEN national security but he never picked up that pen and paper so we and the gay servicemembers he keeps shit canning day after day after day are still waiting 10 months later.

    [And if the Queen Bitch of the ObamaRahm Borg, 24Play, is slithering by, ready to again ejaculate her typical phony responses: NO, it doesn't matter that some other President SOME day might reverse that Executive Order because the White House is assuring us they are working on repeal before HE leaves office.

    And, NO, you have no more evidence that a freeze would delay repeal than you do that stopping executions would delay overturning the death penalty.


    Posted by: Michael @ LeonardMatlovich.com | Apr 16, 2010 1:26:12 AM


  18. Is there a "champagne & caviar party" coming up next for HRC?

    After all, Obama is visiting Los Angeles this MONDAY for a Boxer fundraiser and I read at JMG that there will be a protest. Is this Obama's way of telling the GLBT to shut the heck up?

    CRUMBS.

    I say "Don't Ask Don't Tell"

    http://www.dontaskdontgive.com/

    Posted by: FunMe | Apr 16, 2010 1:42:20 AM


  19. I mean ... don't ask, don't GIVE!

    Posted by: FunMe | Apr 16, 2010 1:43:11 AM


  20. To all of you that hate Obama and keep spewing stupidity!

    Please vote REPUBLICAN!!

    ATTENTION WALFAG SHOPPERS....HILLARY CLINTON ISN'T RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT IN 2012

    But Sarah will!

    If your asses would have been out in the streets protesting when D.A.D.T & D.O.M.A was signed maybe we would'nt have it now...MOTHERFUCKERS!

    No you're too busy loving Bill & Hill. Now you expect him (OBAMA) just to free fall and give you everything you want when most of you didn't support him any fucking way.

    It takes time either you deal with it or crash and burn with the radical right who don't give a fuck about our community!

    Posted by: Chris | Apr 16, 2010 3:16:01 AM


  21. I meant your and not you're!

    Posted by: Chris | Apr 16, 2010 3:17:37 AM


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