WASHINGTON — Federal officials are "aware" of the Missouri hospital that had a man arrested for refusing to leave the bedside of his partner and "are working to gather the facts and determine what steps to take in a speedy manner," a Medicare/Medicaid spokesman said Thursday afternoon.
News spread Thursday about the arrest of Roger Gorley, who had been trying to visit at Research Medical Center in Kansas City with the man he described in a Facebook note as his husband, Allen Mansell. The two were joined in a civil union.
When one of Mansell's family members asked him to leave, he refused and was later arrested. According to a note posted on Research Medical Center's Facebook page Thursday afternoon, "This was an issue of disruptive and belligerent behavior by the visitor that affected patient care." The hospital also states in the post that the decision was unrelated to sexual orientation.
At President Obama's direction during his first term, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius issued regulations mandating that hospitals that receive Medicaid or Medicare funds allow patients the right to have visitors of their choosing, regardless of sexual orientation.
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which enforces the regulations through coordination with the states, is looking into the situation. CMS spokesman Brian Cook told BuzzFeed Thursday afternoon, "CMS is aware of this specific issue and we are working to gather the facts and determine what steps to take in a speedy manner."
"All Americans are guaranteed the right to receive hospital visitors that they designate, and there are specific protections in our rules for same-sex couples across the country," Cook added. "We take alleged violations of federal rules around hospital visitation very seriously."
Guidance issued by CMS on the regulations includes the following: "When a patient who is not incapacitated has designated, either orally to hospital staff or in writing, another individual to be his/her representative, the hospital must involve the designated representative in the development and implementation of the patient's plan of care."