January 19, 2011
Under new federal regulations that took effect Tuesday, hospitals that receive Medicaid and Medicare funding are barred from having visitation policies that discriminate based on sexual orientation. In the past, such policies allowed only those related by blood or marriage to visit an incapacitated person. Gay rights advocates also said many hospitals refused to allow members of same-sex couples to authorize their partner to make crucial medical decisions on their behalf. Any hospital that violates the new regulations will risk losing its federal funding. "This new policy will have a positive impact on same-sex couples and our families throughout the nation," said Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.