by Rex Wockner
Federal regulations that protect same-sex couples in hospital settings nationwide took effect Jan. 18.
The rules, which apply to all hospitals receiving Medicaid or Medicare funds — nearly every hospital — require hospitals to recognize same-sex couples under visitation policies. They also prohibit discrimination based on gender identity.
“Of all the discrimination and pressures we face, not being able to see our partner or spouse shouldn’t be one of them,” said Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. “We thank the administration for taking this step, but continue to urge for the removal of barriers to full protections for our families, which includes repealing DOMA.”
The rules cover about 6,200 hospitals with more than 35 million admissions yearly.
Writing on the White House blog Jan. 18, Brian Bond, deputy director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, said: “This policy impacts millions of LGBT Americans and their families. The President saw an injustice and felt very strongly about correcting this. … This significant policy change is due in no small part to the journeys of two incredibly courageous and passionate women, Janice Langbehn and Charlene Strong. Both lived through unimaginable experiences with the loss of their wives and life partners. … I want to thank them for bringing us all into their lives and for sharing themselves and their families with us, and for using their voices to make lives better for LGBT families.”