“There are few moments in our lives that call for greater compassion and companionship than when a loved one is admitted to the hospital. In these hours of need and moments of pain and anxiety, all of us would hope to have a hand to hold, a shoulder on which to lean – a loved one to be there for us, as we would be there for them.”
With those words on April 15, 2010 President Obama directed HHS Secretary Sebelius to initiate rulemaking to ensure that hospitals that participate in Medicare and Medicaid respect the rights of patients to designate visitors. The President further advised that the rule should ensure that participating hospitals may not deny visitation privileges based on factors including sexual orientation or gender identity.
Today the new Hospital Visitation Regulations go into effect. This policy impacts millions of LGBT Americans and their families. President Obama saw an injustice and felt very strongly about correcting this and has spoken about it often over the years. He was inspired to change the rules after hearing the story of Janice Langbehn, who, along with her children, was barred from visiting her partner of 18 years who lay dying from an aneurysm at a Miami hospital in 2007.
“Other couples, no matter how they define themselves as families, won’t have to go through what we went through, and I am grateful,” Langbehn said. “But the fact that the hospital didn’t let our children say goodbye to their mom… That’s just something that will haunt me forever.”