HRC Offers Resources to Adopt Inclusive Policies Before Rulemaking Mandate
WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign - the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization - today called on healthcare facilities across the United States to adopt fully-inclusive non-discrimination policies now to protect the rights of LGBT patients. The appeal comes on the heels of a letter from Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius to the nation's hospital associations, urging them to implement fully-inclusive patient visitation policies before the formal rulemaking process is complete later this year. This landmark policy change follows a recent announcement from the Joint Commission - the largest hospital accrediting body in the nation - that it will soon require hospitals to adopt non-discrimination policies that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. HRC provides healthcare facilities with resources such as model language and information on best practices to assist them in updating their policies.
"For far too long, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender patients and their families have faced discrimination in hospitals, and this unequal treatment has caused real harm. These announcements from the Joint Commission and the Department of Health and Human Services signal that the time has come for hospitals across America to open the door to full healthcare equality," said HRC President Joe Solmonese. "We strongly support Secretary Sebelius in her conviction that there is no reason to wait for formal regulations to be drafted in order to adopt these policies. HRC is committed to assisting our nation's healthcare facilities in implementing fully-inclusive non-discrimination policies now."
The letter from Secretary Sebelius follows President Obama's memorandum of April 15, 2010, which directed Health and Human Services (HHS) to make rules that require all hospitals that receive federal Medicare and Medicaid funding - nearly every hospital in America - to protect the visitation and healthcare decision-making rights of LGBT people. This new HHS directive will be developed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and published in the Medicare Hospital and Critical Access Hospital Conditions of Participation soon. The new Joint Commission standards on patient non-discrimination, which will be considered mandatory in order to maintain accreditation, are expected to go into effect next year.
"I would appreciate your voluntary support for the intent of the Presidential memorandum by encouraging your members to review policies they may currently have in place and adopt and enforce patient-centered visitation policies, as contemplated by the President, to the extent that they have not done so already," said Secretary Sebelius in her letter. "Your actions could spare many patients the pain of being separated from a loved one during an admission to a hospital - often one of the most anxious times in their lives."
The Human Rights Campaign has worked with healthcare facilities to evaluate and update policies for LGBT patients and their families through the HRC Foundation's annual Healthcare Equality Index (HEI). The HEI rates hospitals on the basis of four main policy areas: patient non-discrimination policies, visitation rights, cultural competency training, and employment non-discrimination. Among the findings in the HEI 2010, released on June 7, was that 93 percent of 200 of the nation's largest healthcare facilities do not have fully inclusive non-discrimination policies for LGBT patients. For more information, go to www.hrc.org/hei<http://www.hrc.org/hei> .
The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.
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