UPDATE: The new hospital rules went into effect yesterday. You can now choose your visitors.
Starting in January you will have the right to choose who can visit you in the hospital. That’s because the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) finally responded to a prior Presidential Memorandum by announcing a new rule that would allow patients to determine who may visit them while in any hospital that accepts Medicare or Medicaid.
The new CMS rule states that hospitals are required to explain to patients their right to choose who can visit them during hospital stays, regardless of whether the visitor is a family member, spouse or domestic partner. The rule will be effective 60 days after publication.
This rule offers some relief for anyone wanting to be visited by someone outside the accepted traditional family model. No longer will a disapproving hospital staffer have the power to deny visitation by your unmarried partner, stepchild or best friend. But keep in mind that the new rule only helps if you are able to tell the hospital who you want as a visitor. It will not:
Help if you are unable to speak for yourself
Grant anyone the right to make medical decisions on your behalf; or
Require hospitals who do not accept Medicare or Medicaid to do anything.
So, if you are unconscious when brought to the hospital, your partner may still be unable to visit. Please ensure that your wishes regarding medical care and visitation are honored – get a Health Care Directive now.