Bill Description: Senate Bill 1336 would allow hospitals and other health care facilities to deny patients access to visitors except for a single designated "essential caregiver."
Does it violate the spirit or the letter of either the U.S. Constitution or the Idaho Constitution? Examples include restrictions on speech, public assembly, the press, privacy, private property, or firearms. Conversely, does it restore or uphold the protections guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution or the Idaho Constitution?
Senate Bill 1336 creates Chapter 97, Title 39, Idaho Code, which allows health care facilities to deny a resident's right to visitation except for a single designated "essential caregiver." Even access to the essential caregiver is limited, applying only when the patient stays a facility for at least 24 hours. This access is further limited by giving facilities wide latitude to "place reasonable restrictions as to where and when the essential caregiver may visit."
While this bill is styled as codifying a patient's right to be visited by a single designated "essential caregiver," what it actually does is enshrine in statute the right of health care facilities to isolate patients from friends and family with one very narrow exception.
As has been vividly illustrated over the last two years, laws protecting patients' rights must be strengthened in a manner that forbids health care facilities from denying patients in-person access to friends, family, and other visitors. This bill fails to accomplish this goal. Instead, it gives legal cover to health care facilities that engage in the cruel and inhuman practice of denying their patients access to visitors.