HRC Blog

President’s Memorandum Looks to Us to Protect Our Visitation and Decision-Making Rights, Too

President Obama’s memorandum to the Department of Health and Human Services yesterday is a huge step for ensuring equal visitation access and decision-making rights for the LGBT community. Two main orders related to visitation and decision-making are included in this memo:

  • Hospitals that participate in Medicare or Medicaid must “respect the rights of patients to designate visitors” and they may not deny visitation access based on “race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.”
  • These hospitals must respect all patients’ advance directives.

HHS must issue regulations to implement this directive, and details will be forthcoming. In the meantime, a key point for LGBT individuals and families to understand is that this memorandum only helps us if we take the steps necessary to designate our visitors and complete advance healthcare directives.

  • To make sure your family and friends can visit you – especially in the event that you are incapacitated and unable to designate your visitors – you should complete hospital visitation authorization forms.
  • To ensure that those who know you the best can make medical decisions on your behalf in an emergency, you should complete your advance healthcare directives – a health care proxy and living will.

For more information and resources on protecting your visitation and decision-making rights go to: For additional legal documents to protect your family, including Last Will & Testament and Durable Power of Attorney for Finances go to:

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