HHS Clarifies Visitation Rights for Gay Nursing Home Residents

| July 2, 2013

Gay nursing home residents will have the same visitation rights to their partners as Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries in hospitals, according to updated guidance from the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS).

The guidance set forth by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is a reminder of current regulations that describe the rights of long-term care (LTC) residents to receive family and non-family visitors, including same-sex spouses or domestic partners. 

“LTC facilities must ensure that all individuals seeking to visit a resident be given full and equal visitation privileges, consistent with the preferences the resident has expressed concerning visitors, and within the reasonable restrictions that ensure the safety of residents,” writes the guidance signed by CMS Director of Survey and Certification Thomas E. Hamilton. 

The issued guidance also urges state survey agency directors to conduct interviews with residents and their family members, asking them if they understand that visitors are allowed 24 hours a day. 

Additionally, HHS also encourages surveyors to ask whether the LTC facility has restricted or limited any visitors. 

If an interview indicates that residents do not understand visitation policies or that the facility has limited visitors outside of any reasonable restrictions, then surveyors should investigate circumstances regarding those limitations or restrictions and evaluate the facility’s visitation policies.

Effective immediately, the HHS reminder is to be communicated with all survey and certification staff, their managers and the State/Regional Office training coordinators within 30 days of the issued guidance.

Written by Jason Oliva


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Category: Nursing Homes, Senior Care, Senior Living

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