by Brendon Nafziger
, DOTmed News Associate Editor | June 23, 2010
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services hopes hospitals grant visitation rights to gay or lesbian partners, or anyone the patient picks, ahead of a final rule on visitation rights expected later this year.
In a letter to major hospital groups, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius asked hospitals to voluntarily follow an April 15 memorandum
issued by President Obama calling for hospitals participating in Medicare or Medicaid to let patients grant visiting rights to whomever they choose.
Typically, hospitals do not grant visiting rights to those who aren't immediate family members.
"Your actions could spare many patients the pain of being separated from a loved one during an admission to a hospital -- often one of the most anxious times in their lives," Sebelius wrote.
On Tuesday, CMS published a proposed rule requiring Medicare-participating hospitals to let patients grant visiting rights to whom they choose. The public has about 60 days to comment on the proposal.
A final rule is due before the end of the year, the HHS said.