Bill Description: Senate Bill 1353 would allow hospitals and other health care facilities to deny patients access to visitors except for designated "essential caregivers."
Analyst Note: Senate Bill 1353 is similar to and a replacement for Senate Bill 1336. This bill's rating and analysis have been updated.
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 1353 creates Chapter 97, Title 39, Idaho Code, which allows health care facilities to deny a resident's right to visitation except for designated "essential caregivers." (The original version of the bill allowed only a single essential caregiver.)
Access to these essential caregivers is limited, however, as the bill gives facilities 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 designated "essential caregivers," it also has the effect of enshrining in statute the right of health care facilities to isolate patients from friends and family who are not designated as essential caregivers.
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 takes a small step toward this goal but fails to accomplish it, because it provides legal cover to health care facilities that continue to limit their patients' access to visitors.