By: Litigation Department
Currently there are 25 states that have Hospital visitation laws in the form of relationship recognition laws (marriage, civil unions, domestic partnerships) or separate visitation statutes. Pennsylvania is the only state in the northeast that does not have hospital visitation laws that provide for automatic recognition of nontraditional relationships. That means that hospitals in Pennsylvania do not have to permit visitation of anyone that is not a patient’s immediate biological family or legally recognized spouse under the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. This affects long term unwed heterosexual couples, gay and lesbian couples and all non-traditional families of every variety. See a map of those states providing such recognition.
On April 15, President Obama issued a memorandum directing the Department of Health and Human Services to adopt regulations requiring all hospitals receiving Medicaid and Medicare dollars to permit visitation by a designated visitor, without regard to sexual orientation or gender identity. These regulations are not yet in effect. When those regulations take effect most hospitals across the country, including most hospitals in Pennsylvania, will be required to establish non-bias visitation policies. It is important to realize that certain health care and estate planning documents are still necessary. It is extremely important to have documents in place to protect your loved ones, such as health care directives, powers of attorney, and wills. The National Center for Lesbian Rights has put together a general discussion of the importance of these documents.
Please contact our offices to discuss having these important documents drafted for you, if you reside in either Pennsylvania or New Jersey.