The Idaho State Capitol building reflected in the Joe R. Williams building on March 23, 2021. (Otto Kitsinger for Idaho Capital Sun)
The Idaho House of Representatives voted unanimously Thursday to approve a bill that would guarantee health care patients or residents of care facilities have a right to visits from an essential caregiver.
If passed into law, Senate Bill 1353 would allow patients or residents of care facilities to designate a person to be their essential care giver for visits. The caregiver would be allowed to visit the patient or resident even if other visitors are being excluded by the facility.
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The bill would apply to hospitals, nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, group homes and residential treatment centers.
“In enacting this chapter, it is the intent of the legislature to guarantee and protect the right of Idahoans to be visited by essential caregivers of their choosing when staying in a health care or assistance facility,” the bill states.
Sen. Michelle Stennett, D-Ketchum sponsored the bill, along with co-sponsors Sen. Chuck Winder, R-Boise; Abby Lee, R-Fruitland; and Rep. Laurie Lickley, R-Jerome. Lickley told the Idaho House that the bill was put forward because many patients and health care facility residents were not able to have loved ones or caregivers by their side during the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Many of us remember what in-person visitation was like during coronavirus, this is a piece of legislation to fix this,” Lickley said. “It allows caregivers to provide care to our loved ones when they need it most.”
Nobody debated against the bill or asked questions on Thursday.
The Idaho Senate also passed the bill unanimously, voting 34-0 to approve it back on March 7.
Senate Bill 1353 heads next to Gov. Brad Little’s desk for final consideration. Once the bill reaches his desk, Little has five days, not including Sundays, to sign it into law, veto it or allow it to become law without his signature.
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