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Mixed Feelings on Obama’s Hospital Visitation Order

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 8:24 pm - April 16, 2010.
Filed under: Obama and Gay Issues

Yesterday, I learned that President Obama had ordered “that nearly all hospitals allow patients to say who has visitation rights and who can help make medical decisions, including gay and lesbian partners“:

The White House on Thursday released a statement by Obama instructing his Health and Human Services secretary to draft rules requiring hospitals that receive Medicare and Medicaid payments to grant all patients the right to designate people who can visit and consult with them at crucial moments.

The designated visitors should have the same rights that immediate family members now enjoy, Obama’s instructions said. It said Medicare-Medicaid hospitals, which include most of the nation’s facilities, may not deny visitation and consultation privileges on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation,gender identity or disability.

While I’m pleased with the result, I’m concerned about the process.

First, I believe any individual should be able to designate people who can visit him when he’s been hospitalized.  I also believe private hospitals should be free to set their own policies.  And I question whether the president has the authority to do so.  And if he does, wonder what kind of precedent would this set.  Will a future president impose other such mandates on hospitals?

Here, we see a “conflict” between the freedom of hospitals to set their own policies and the ability of their “clients” to choose their visitors.  In most cases, the conflict never materializes.  But, it has; individuals on their death beds have been deprived of the company of their beloved, even after writing “‘advanced health care directive[s]'” asking for full visitation rights for” said individual.

I don’t like it when the government mandates a private institution to do anything, but I do like what this mandate accomplishes.

I’m also wondering if Obama is doing this because he needs to “throw a bone” to the gay community, given how he left us out of Obamacare and how we still haven’t seen a legislative timeline for repeal of Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell (DADT).  Perhaps, he issued this order to placate gay activists as he knows he won’t be able to repeal DADT before the fall elections.

I do hope I’m wrong about that last fear.



  1. I like the original pic of Dan with his nephew. . .although sadlyno raises a question for me. . .how private is a company that seeks, accepts, and uses government monies, grants, etc. . .and yet what would the consumer base of a private company/hospital look like if it couldn’t accept folk on medicare/medicaid or other government assistance?

    Evan thanks. . .was a good chuckle this morning but at the same time I don’t agree with Dan being the ‘——–‘ MO. I find GP to be one of the more thought provoking ‘mind stim’ to start out my day.

    Comment by rusty — April 17, 2010 @ 1:00 pm - April 17, 2010

  2. It’s still smart to get it in writing, as smart people have been doing for decades, no matter what Papa Doc says. Take care of yourself. Youy’re still going to have to do that. This proclamation is a big nothing, once again.

    Comment by Charles — April 17, 2010 @ 1:01 pm - April 17, 2010

  3. The fallacy of the conservative mindset is shown again and again

    “The Government can’t ‘give freedom’.”

    It sure the hell can and it can take freedoms away too. Government does this every day for the greater good.

    Speed limits, anti-segregation laws, anti-drug laws, anti-prostitution laws, limits on abortion, limits on cloning, eminent domain…and any place that is “open to the public” has to follow certain rules.

    That is the our society has been, is and will be in the future.

    Comment by gillie — April 17, 2010 @ 1:04 pm - April 17, 2010

  4. Thank you gillie again for showing all the goverment can do is restrict, not give freedom. Every one of those examples is of the government controlling somethng.

    Would you like to post some more examples that prove my point?

    Comment by The_Livewire — April 17, 2010 @ 1:34 pm - April 17, 2010

  5. Don’t confuse an advance (not advanced) health care directive with a durable power of attorney for health care decisions. The health care directive is a statement of your wishes and preferences that is meant to guide the decision making of your attorney-in-fact (the person holding your durable power of attorney for health care). The health care directive is not legally binding. The durable power of attorney is.

    Comment by Conservative Guy — April 17, 2010 @ 1:40 pm - April 17, 2010

  6. But the government has so extended its tentacles, the last five decades, that *every* hospital receives some form of public funds.

    But this decision isn’t socialism: It’s freedom.

    You haven’t even named one problem it will cause.

    “Oh, no, a religious fanatical nurse who has to get involved in everyone else’s business will be offended!”

    Oh, great problem.

    Comment by Mitchell — April 17, 2010 @ 2:14 pm - April 17, 2010

  7. I can name one easy Mitchell,

    How do you restrict someone from seeing an unwell patient? this XO does nothing to affect medical Power of Attourney. If I am incapicated my POA still has power over who can and cannot viist. If I’m unable to designate who can and can’t see me, this will do nothing to allow that additional person in.

    Comment by The_Livewire — April 17, 2010 @ 2:19 pm - April 17, 2010

  8. Response to ILoveCapitalism:

    You say that hospitals are “typical businesses” in disagreement with me. Look, a business is something that sells a consumer product to someone for a desire. I mean, food is necessary, but it’s something people buy everyday, and it’s something people buy based on wants. It’s necessary to eat food, but it’s not necessary to eat a specific brand of food.

    Consumer products like iPods are not necessary for anything. Hospitals are not typical businesses in any way, as typical consumer-driven businesses are.

    NEXT, you say that this decision “imposes” something on hospitals, but then you say that it really doesn’t change anything because most hospitals already allow broad visitation rights.

    Well, if that doesn’t just support my point further. My point is that it doesn’t impose any negative effect on anyone. As I said before, opponents critical of the power behind the decision haven’t yet put forth any rational example of what kind of problem this might cause. Tell me what problem it will cause, then I can evaluate whether or not that is actually a potential problem, otherwise I will assume that it will not cause any problems.

    Comment by Mitchell — April 17, 2010 @ 2:21 pm - April 17, 2010

  9. Response to Livewire:

    If you are incapacitated, I think there should be someone vested by you with legal power to make necessary decisions in your interest. Because obviously you wouldn’t be able to make such decisions yourself.

    I haven’t read the text of Obama’s directive, nor would I be able to understand all the legalese, so I don’t know how this directive affects people’s abilities to make decisions via proxy.

    Comment by Mitchell — April 17, 2010 @ 2:25 pm - April 17, 2010

  10. This may be the stupidest, most childish blog post I’ve ever read.

    You clearly haven’t been reading Moonbattery then. I consider GayPatriot to be reasonable by comparison.

    It’s interesting to compare GayPatriot to Moonbattery. Because on the one hand I see this and on the other I see this. Yet when you get off the issue of homosexuality, I think the two sides in this would agree on damn near anything.

    So conservatives are surprisingly tolerant of homosexuals, and conservatives have an unreasonable hatred of homosexuals. I’m not sure what to get out of this.

    Comment by Serenity — April 17, 2010 @ 2:42 pm - April 17, 2010

  11. The latest news item out of Barack Obama explains a lot about the hate gays like Evan Hurst and tintin.

    Apparently, Barack Obama considers it a bad and horrible thing for someone to say that another person is gay.

    When you realize how Evan Hurst and his friend “tintin” are having to every day repeat hallelujahs and worships to the Black Messiah who is screaming to the media that publishing the fact that a Supreme Court justice nominee is gay makes her look unqualified and unfit, you can understand that they have a lot of bottled-up anger that they have to project onto other people like GPW.

    The story goes that slaves who were afraid to leave the plantation were always the loudest in attacking free black people. Evan Hurst and tintin are plantation slaves, know it, and lack the courage to renounce their liberal brainwashing that any criticism of a black person makes you a racist. Hence, they have to take it out on everyone else.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — April 17, 2010 @ 5:09 pm - April 17, 2010

  12. Unfortunately, Serenity, gay liberals like yourself have already demonstrated that you fully support and endorse politicians who support amendments banning gay-sex marriage.

    In short, you’re not opposed to bans on gay-sex marriage. Indeed, you and your gay-sex liberal friends given money and endorsements to politicians who support these bans and who, like Barack Obama, say that marriage is a “sacred bond” between a man and a woman.

    Why don’t you try some intellectual consistency? If supporting gay marriage bans and the politicians who support them means you hate gays, why are you a gay-hater? If it doesn’t, then why are you claiming that people who do hate gays?

    Your problem is simply that you lack the ability to think beyond your bigotry and prejudice about conservatives.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — April 17, 2010 @ 5:15 pm - April 17, 2010

  13. I will benefit from this policy change; however…

    Just imagine if Medicare did not exist, and the government did not issue marriage licenses; then hospitals would be allowed to come up with their own policies which would be in large part based on consumer wants & needs instead of what the government thought we should have.

    Comment by James Younce — April 17, 2010 @ 6:08 pm - April 17, 2010

  14. I don’t care who is a democrat and who is a republican, who is a liberal and who is a conservative- those terms mean absolutely garbage to me.

    What concerns me is situations like one reported here –

    It doesn’t matter if a hundred of the above commenters were able to visit their dying partner in the hospital in the backwater towns of the Deep South without a hitch. As long as this still happens at any time, in any place, an injustice is being done.

    As long as people still see us as an “other” and fear that letting us see our dying partners will give everyone in the hospital AIDS and let pedophiles have protection for their “orientation,” the free market will not work. Human dignity should never ever be taken to a vote.

    I loathed Dubya; I’m sure many here loved him. But if he had made the same executive order, I would have supported that decision whole-heartedly. I wouldn’t have forgiven the other things he had done that I oppose, but this I would have supported. And it seems that many right-wing blogs have done the same. Except for this one.

    Comment by Emily K — April 17, 2010 @ 7:18 pm - April 17, 2010

  15. “Just imagine if Medicare did not exist, and the government did not issue marriage licenses; then hospitals would be allowed to come up with their own policies which would be in large part based on consumer wants & needs instead of what the government thought we should have.”

    James, that sounds very good to me.

    Comment by Lori Heine — April 17, 2010 @ 7:50 pm - April 17, 2010

  16. So conservatives are surprisingly tolerant of homosexuals, and conservatives have an unreasonable hatred of homosexuals.

    You think conservatives hate homosexuals because of a happy dancing kitty? How pathetic. I’m pretty sure GoY aka V the K doesn’t hate homos. I think he just values marriage. There’s a difference you know.

    Please stop embarrassing the gay community with your victimhood and your simple mind.

    Comment by American Elephant — April 17, 2010 @ 8:15 pm - April 17, 2010

  17. I’m laughing about the libtards whining about us right wing extremist gay people who hate ourselves. Let’s deal in reality here. While all the lefty gays are rapturous over this MEMO, I am not fooled. It is a freaking memo, not even an Executive Order. And if you read through to the end, the memo reminds us that it is worthless and grants nothing. The visitation thing is a red herring anyway. What gay person here would stand by and let themselves be kept from the love of their life? They better have a lot of security to block me out of the room.

    Comment by FreedomsWings — April 17, 2010 @ 9:15 pm - April 17, 2010

  18. 10. The military is a part of the executive branch. Hospitals are not. Presidents have constitutional authority over the executive branch.

    Comment by William — April 17, 2010 @ 9:46 pm - April 17, 2010

  19. The issue at hand has two parts.
    1) in the absence of a written health care directive from the patient, when there are conflicting desires between a domestic partner and blood relatives, who gets the final say.

    2) was it such a widespread problem that an EO was needed? In spite of scare stories saying it is, I’m not so sure it happened very much.

    It plays something to each side. Gay marriage opponents can point to this as another reason to deny same-sex unions. “Why do you need marriage? Nobody’s denying your right to help determine your partner’s medical decisions.” Gay and pro-gay Americans can point to this as an example of Pres. Obama’s advocacy of gay issues.

    Meanwhile, the real-world effect is virtually nil.

    Comment by William — April 17, 2010 @ 9:53 pm - April 17, 2010

  20. FreedomsWings,

    I’m sure that said hospital security, once they successfully bully you out of the hospital for disturbing the peace, will have you arrested by the local un-sympathetic police, where you will be in a jail cell while your partner lays dying. And your children, (should you have them, and should they be unrelated to the dying parent by blood,) will be left with strangers to care for them during that time as their parent lays dying.

    Comment by Emily K — April 17, 2010 @ 10:14 pm - April 17, 2010

  21. When “said hospital security” does that, how about if the media is alerted and people lose their jobs? Why is it that everything must be done by Big Daddy Government? Have the American people really become such blithering half-wits that we can no longer stand up for ourselves?

    The loons on the left keep screaming about “eight years of George W. Bush,” but they have very clearly learned NOTHING from those years. Big government can be turned against those who hide in its shadow in the space of a single election.

    What happens if a future president hands down an edict stripping same-sex couples of all the wonderful rights Obama has bestowed upon them? If you say that could never happen, you’re living in a dream world.

    Comment by Lori Heine — April 18, 2010 @ 4:21 am - April 18, 2010

  22. If I had my druthers, I would say executive orders should be limited to directly effecting the function of the Executive branch? Directly, not tangentially, like politicians unfortunately use the “Interstate Commerce clause’

    Hence, desegregating the Military – a group under direct control of the executive branch – is in. Dictating what a hospital can and cannot do? Not so much.

    Comment by Ryan — April 18, 2010 @ 7:03 am - April 18, 2010

  23. Why do horrible disgusting things like this keep happening? What is wrong with humanity? And this is in Cali, NOT small-town Alabama.

    Comment by Emily K — April 18, 2010 @ 10:36 pm - April 18, 2010

  24. Emily, darling, that case is exactly what you wanted.

    Two people had the government make life or death decisions for them, confiscate their property, and sell it to pay for it.

    This is liberal paradise. What are you complaining about? You and yours have long since been stating that the government should confiscate private property. You and yours have long since been stating that the government should make health care decisions for you. And you and yours have long since been stating that the government should be the ultimate arbiter of whether you have a relationship or not.

    Or were you expecting that OTHER people would have their property confiscated, their health care controlled, and their relationships voided, and you and yours would get away scot-free?

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — April 18, 2010 @ 11:45 pm - April 18, 2010

  25. […] have devoted the least amount of attention which elicit the greatest amount of controversy.  I had posted on the president’s hospital visitation order, in large measure, because my take nearly perfectly paralleled that of a the left-leaning lesbian […]

    Pingback by GayPatriot » Further Thoughts on the Hospital Visitation Issue — April 19, 2010 @ 4:18 am - April 19, 2010

  26. David, when you write, “I knew you’d be against whatever Obama does so I wasn’t surprised,” you make clear your prejudice against gay conservatives and your ignorance of my writing.

    While I did indeed express skepticism in this post to Obama’s commitment to repealing DADT, in the past, I have praised him for the manner in which he has pushed for repeal.

    You’d know that if you read this blog — or checked our archives

    Comment by B. Daniel Blatt — April 19, 2010 @ 4:40 am - April 19, 2010

  27. […] comment to my firsts post on Obama’s memorandum on hospital visitation, David wrote, “I knew you’d be against whatever Obama does so I wasn’t surprised.”  Wonder how he knew that?  Must not have been from checking our archives where I praised […]

    Pingback by GayPatriot » The Prejudices of Our Critics — April 19, 2010 @ 7:36 pm - April 19, 2010

  28. North Dallas Thirty,

    You have no idea what “I” and “mine” are.

    Here’s a clue to help you in the right direction, though: I’m registered to vote as “unaffiliated.”

    What I see is an elderly couple who obtained all the right paperwork and had everything taken from underneath them by crooked people who ignored parts of our legal system that they chose to ignore. One man is now dead, died alone without his partner by his side, who lost everything except that which the dying partner created for him outside his home.

    Now, if all you can take away from that is a strawman about how “I and mine” (whoever that is) agree that this is some kind of “nanny state paradise” that “I and mine” (who, again?) want… that’s a real shame.

    Because the first thing I thought of when I read that article is how must this man be coping with the loss of everything by people in every corner of his life that refused to help at all.

    The first thing that YOU thought of was “obviously there must be some way I can prove this was cooked up by the ‘other side.’ ”

    These are human beings, and all you see are pawns in a bizarre political argument you want to have with me.

    I am officially creeped out by you and by this website. This is extremely disturbing for anybody of any affiliation.

    Even “no affiliation.”

    Comment by Emily K — April 19, 2010 @ 11:13 pm - April 19, 2010

  29. What I see is an elderly couple who obtained all the right paperwork and had everything taken from underneath them by crooked people who ignored parts of our legal system that they chose to ignore.

    Correction. What you see is the complaint, not a statement of fact or final judgment. It comes only from the plaintiff, with no evidence or testimony from the other side. It is completely one-sided, and is in fact designed to only present one side of the story.

    But of course, since a gay or lesbian person filed it, it must be absolutely correct. Everyone else is wrong; the gay and lesbian person is always right, no matter what.

    You are creepy, EmilyK. Your sexual orientation so controls you that you can’t comprehend that another gay or lesbian person could make a mistake or be wrong. You judge solely by minority status and have no room whatsoever for consideration of any facts. All you care about is sexual orientation. You have condemned and found guilty people based solely on the testimony of one gay/lesbian person without any chance to present contrary information.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — April 20, 2010 @ 12:07 am - April 20, 2010

  30. […] until last week, I was pretty confident we would see Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell (DADT) repealed this year. […]

    Pingback by GayPatriot » No Action on DADT in 2010 — April 21, 2010 @ 5:18 pm - April 21, 2010

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