The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued new rules today that require participating hospitals to have policies that allow patients to choose the visitors who are allowed by their bedside, including same-sex domestic partners. 

 According to the White House’s press release, the new rules will:

  • Require hospitals to explain to all patients their right to choose who may visit them during their inpatient stay, regardless of whether the visitor is a family member, a spouse, a domestic partner (including a same-sex domestic partner), or other type of visitor, as well as their right to withdraw such consent to visitation at any time. 
  • Require hospitals have written policies and procedures detailing patients’ visitation rights, as well as the circumstances under which the hospitals may restrict patient access to visitors based on reasonable clinical needs.
  • Specify that all visitors chosen by the patient must be able to enjoy “full and equal” visitation privileges consistent with the wishes of the patient.
  • Update the Conditions of Participation (CoPs), which are the health and safety standards all Medicare- and Medicaid-participating hospitals and critical access hospitals must meet, and are applicable to all patients of those hospitals regardless of payer source.

The rules will take effect 60 days after publication.  The new rules can be found here.