President Obama yesterday issued a memorandum to ensure that gay and lesbian couples will not be denied access to their partner's bedside when they are hospitalized. All hospitals that participate in Medicaid and Medicare must allow patients to designate who shall be allowed to visit them and make medical decisions on their behalf. The order would allow for same-sex partners to have the same rights as immediate family members.
President Obama's decision was influenced by the tragic situation that Lisa Pond and Janice Langbehn faced when Lisa became ill and was hospitalized in Florida. Even with all the proper paperwork, Janice was denied access to Lisa and she died alone.
The memorandum also directs Secretary of Health and Human Services to conduct a larger study of the barriers LGBT people and their families face in accessing health care and to help hospitals implement the new requirements.
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