Married same-sex couples nationwide will be eligible for Medicare & Medicaid Services

Today, the Department of Health and Human Services issued its first announcement about how it will be implementing the Supreme Court ruling from June 2013 that declared the central part of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. The announcement concerns the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid, and it makes clear that legally married same-sex couples living in any state - even a state that does not respect their marriage - will have access to equal coverage for nursing home care. 

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a release:

HHS is working swiftly to implement the Supreme Court’s decision and maximize federal recognition of same-sex spouses in HHS programs. 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.

Marilyn Tavenner, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) added:

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. 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.

The Medicare news is the latest announcement from federal programs declaring how same-sex couples will be impacted by the DOMA ruling. For all of the official statements released so far, click HERE. And for more information on what the end of DOMA means for same-sex couples, check out this 'AFTER DOMA' guide.

Freedom to Marry is continuing to pursue a final end to federal marriage discrimination through the Roadmap to Victory, which calls for advancing work on three tracks - winning more states, growing the majority, and ending federal discrimination - so that we can return to the U.S. Supreme Court with a critical mass of states and undeniable momentum in public opinion so that the court can rule for national resolution. Fully repealing the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and working for the broadest implementation of the DOMA ruling - including with regard to the Social Security protections - are important steps in the path toward national victory.