In September 2011, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued a Memorandum directing medical providers that receive Medicare and Medicaid dollars to honor patients' Advance Directives on Healthcare.
This memorandum is entirely unnecessary as to a large segment of hospital patients, whose husbands and wives are routinely afforded decision-making authority and the right to visit with their loved one.
However, as President Obama stated in a President's Directive that he issued on April 15, 2010:
every day, all across America, patients are denied the kindnesses and caring of a loved one at their sides -- whether in a sudden medical emergency or a prolonged hospital stay. Often, a widow or widower with no children is denied the support and comfort of a good friend. Members of religious orders are sometimes unable to choose someone other than an immediate family member to visit them and make medical decisions on their behalf. Also uniquely affected are gay and lesbian Americans who are often barred from the bedsides of the partners with whom they may have spent decades of their lives -- unable to be there for the person they love, and unable to act as a legal surrogate if their partner is incapacitated.
The President's Directive highlighted the injustice done to many, particularly including single people, unmarried couples and same-sex couples (whether married or otherwise, as same-sex marriage was not at that time recognized in the United States).
The Memorandum from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services instructs that:
This highlights the importance of having an up-to-date Advance Directive on Healthcare.
Please note that this article is a general summary of law and omits many important details, footnotes, and caveats. It is no substitute for legal advice from a lawyer based on your particular circumstances. For more information or to speak with a lawyer, please call us at (301) 656-6905 or send us an email at email@example.com.