CMS Issues Memo on Access & Visitation Rights

A Memorandum issued on June 28, 2013 by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to State Agency Directors (S&C: 13-42 NH) in the aftermath of the Supreme Court decision on the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act serves as a reminder about “Access and Visitation Rights in Long Term Care (LTC) Facilities”.  The memo reviews current interpretive guidelines for F-Tag 172, reiterating resident rights surrounding access and visitation as well as facility obligations to ensure that all individuals seeking to visit a resident be given full and equal visitation privileges, consistent with resident preference and within reasonable restrictions on certain visitors based on resident safety and other policy reasons that safeguard residents.

Facilities must provide 24-hour access to all individuals visiting with the consent of the resident.  Residents must be notified of their rights to have visitors on a 24-hour basis, which could include, but are not limited to, spouses (including same-sex spouses), domestic partners (including same-sex domestic partners), other family members, or friends.