HHS announces important Medicare information for people in same-sex marriages

Dept. of Health & Human Services

04/03/2014

Today, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that the Social Security Administration (SSA) is now able to process requests for Medicare Part A and Part B Special Enrollment Periods, and reductions in Part B and premium Part A late enrollment penalties for certain eligible people in same-sex marriages. This is another step HHS is taking in response to the June 26, 2013 Supreme Court ruling in U.S. v. Windsor, which held section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional. Because of this ruling, Medicare is no longer prevented by DOMA from recognizing same-sex marriages for determining entitlement to, or eligibility, for Medicare.

Read more about today’s announcement here …

Just Like Me? NOT! Amodei Is Deaf, Dumb and Can’t Read!

DiscriminationSome time ago, I wrote to Rep. Mark Amodei regarding DOMA and various bills proposed by GOP members of Congress seeking to  restrict the marriage franchise.  I specifically stated that I believe that marriage is a contract of law and as such it should be available to all human beings, be they male + male, female + female or male+female couples.  I conveyed in that letter that I consider marriage a civil right.  I also told him in my letter that if he was of the belief that marriage should NOT be available to ALL couples, but instead allowed only between ONE man and ONE woman, then he should find the intestinal fortitude to introduce a bill into Congress to remove all discriminatory marriage-related tax incentives and benefits from our US Tax Code.  It is inappropriate for Congress to impose discriminatory tax codes on certain members of our society.  I also stated that if it’s only to be between ONE man and ONE woman, then they should outlaw divorce and not allow widows or widowers to marry as they’d already used up their “ONE.”

A number of bills have been proposed.  HJRes51 proposed an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to enshrine discrimination of against an entire class of U.S. Citizens:

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled (two-thirds of each House concurring therein),

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This joint resolution may be cited as the `Marriage Protection Amendment’.

SEC. 2. CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT.

The following article is proposed as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years after the date of its submission for ratification:

`Article–

`Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.’.

Yet another bill, HR2834, proposed which marriages would be eligible for benefits:

Declares that, in determining the meaning of any Act of Congress: (1) “marriage” includes a marriage, domestic partnership, civil union, or any other similar legal union between two individuals that is recognized by a state, the District of Columbia, a territory or possession of the United States, or a federally recognized Indian tribe; and (2) “spouse” refers to either member of such a legal union. (Currently, “marriage” is defined only as a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, while “spouse” refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or wife.)

Under the definitions outlined in HR2834, my late husband and I would not have been considered husband and wife, as we were not married in a “State,” the District of Columbia,  a U.S. Territory, or on Tribal grounds.  We were married in the Bahamas. That was another point I raised in my letter to Rep. Amodei.

Well, I finally got my response from Rep. Amodei’s office.  Clearly, he, and the member of his staff (sp) who drafted the response below, are incapable of comprehending that someone in his district would be “FOR” the principle of marriage equality and thought I must have erred in my assertion that marriage should NOT be restricted to just ONE man and ONE woman.  Here’s the copy of his letter (the only modification to this letter is the removal of my address from the letter before posting it here):

Amodei-DOMA

HHS announces first guidance implementing Supreme Court’s decision on the Defense of Marriage Act

Today, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a memo clarifying that all beneficiaries in private Medicare plans have access to equal coverage when it comes to care in a nursing home where their spouse lives.  This is the first guidance issued by HHS in response to the recent Supreme Court ruling, which held section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional.

“HHS is working swiftly to implement the Supreme Court’s decision and maximize federal recognition of same-sex spouses in HHS programs,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.  “Today’s announcement is the first of many steps that we will be taking over the coming months to clarify the effects of the Supreme Court’s decision and to ensure that gay and lesbian married couples are treated equally under the law.”

“Today, Medicare is ensuring that all beneficiaries will have equal access to coverage in a nursing home where their spouse lives, regardless of their sexual orientation,” said Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Marilyn Tavenner.  “Prior to this, a beneficiary in a same-sex marriage enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan did not have equal access to such coverage and, as a result, could have faced time away from his or her spouse or higher costs because of the way that marriage was defined for this purpose.”

Under current law, Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan are entitled to care in, among certain other skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), the SNF where their spouse resides (assuming that they have met the conditions for SNF coverage in the first place, and the SNF has agreed to the payment amounts and other terms that apply to a plan network SNF).  Seniors with Medicare Advantage previously may have faced the choice of receiving coverage in a nursing home away from their same-sex spouse, or dis-enrolling from the Medicare Advantage plan which would have meant paying more out-of-pocket for care in the same nursing home as their same-sex spouse.

Today’s guidance clarifies that this guarantee of coverage applies equally to all married couples.  The guidance specifically clarifies that this guarantee of coverage applies equally to couples who are in a legally recognized same-sex marriage, regardless of where they live.
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Texas Judge Forbids Lesbian Woman From Living With Her Partner

In a post at Think Progress last Friday, we once again learn that the REPUBLIBAN’s culture war against the LGBT community is still raging —

By Ian Millhiser on May 17, 2013 at 1:30 pm

Carolyn Compton is in a three year-old relationship with a woman. According to Compton’s partner Page Price, Compton’s ex-husband rarely sees their two children and was also once charged with stalking Compton, a felony, although he eventually plead to a misdemeanor charge of criminal trespassing.

And yet, thanks to a Texas judge, Compton could lose custody of her children because she has the audacity to live with the woman she loves.

According to Price, Judge John Roach, a Republican who presides over a state trial court in McKinney, Texas, placed a so-called “morality clause” in Compton’s divorce papers. This clause forbids Compton having a person that she is not related to “by blood or marriage” at her home past 9pm when her children are present. Since Texas will not allow Compton to marry her partner, this means that she effectively cannot live with her partner so long as she retains custody over her children. Invoking the “morality clause,” Judge Roach gave Price 30 days to move out of Compton’s home.

Compton can appeal Roach’s decision, but her appeal will be heard by the notoriouslyconservative Texas court system. Ultimately, the question of whether Compton’s relationship with Price is entitled to the same dignity accorded to any other loving couple could rest with the United States Supreme Court.


This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe.  Image credit to http://timetowrite.blogs.com

Seven Terrible State Bills

— by ThinkProgress War Room | Mar 27, 2013

Recently, we discussed some of the terrible bills floating around out there in state legislatures. Here’s another look at some of the worst proposals, including a couple that were signed into law this week:

  • NORTH DAKOTA: The state’s Republican governor signed a trifecta of terrible anti-abortion bills, which are likely to have the effect of banning abortion in the state. One bill unconstitutionally bans abortion after just six weeks, which is before many women even know they’re pregnant. An even more insidious bill takes up the anti-abortion movement’s favorite new tactic: drastic overregulation of abortion clinics to all but guarantee that they will have to close. These so-called TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) laws are also moving in North CarolinaMississippiTexasAlabama, and Virginia.
  • KANSAS: A new bill will allow the state to quarantine HIV positive individuals, something Kansas actually banned back in 1988.
  • INDIANA: An anti-abortion bill was going to mandate forced ultrasounds before a woman is provided with the abortion pill. Lawmakers explain that they are dropping the controversial provision in order to focus on their real goal: regulating abortion clinics out of existence.
  • VIRGINIA: Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-VA) signed a bill that will mandate that Virginians present photo identification when they vote, which will disproportionately impact young people, minorities, and the elderly.
  • KENTUCKY: The legislature passed a so-called “religious freedom” bill that allows individuals to ignore laws based on the vague notion of “sincerely held religious beliefs,” opening the door to discrimination against LGBT people, among other problems. Gov. Steve Beshear (D) vetoed the bill, but unfortunately his veto was overridden yesterday.
  • PENNSYLVANIA: Top Republicans in the state have yet to abandon a GOP plan to rig steal the White House by rigging the distribution of the state’s Electoral College votes. Republicans in Virginia, Florida, Wisconsin, and other states dropped the idea, but Pennsylvania Republicans are keeping it on the table.
  • ARKANSAS: In addition to its race to the bottom on abortion, Arkansas is considering some highly regressive tax changes. As part of an effort meant to stimulate growth, an Arkansas legislative committee passed two tax cuts that will largely benefit the rich and then rejected one that would benefit the working poor. A recent study found that state-level tax cuts don’t promote job growth.

Another week, another set of terrible proposals moving out in state legislatures.

Evening Brief: Important Stories That You Might’ve Missed


This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe.