Policy: Law

HHS updates Medicare enrollment rules for same-sex couples

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Politics,White House,Gay Marriage,DOMA,Health Care,Medicare and Medicaid,Social Security,PennAve,Kathleen Sebelius,Meghashyam Mali,Law,HHS

The Obama administration on Thursday announced that it was updating Medicare rules to allow partners in same-sex marriages to apply for benefits during special enrollment periods.

The Department of Health and Human Services said that the Social Security Administration would now be able to take applications for special enrollment periods for Medicare Part A and Part B and reduce late penalties for some eligible same-sex couples.

The move is the latest step taken by HHS after the Supreme Court in 2013 struck down a key part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

Following the court ruling in U.S. v. Windsor, HHS and other government agencies took steps to ensure that gay couples were treated equally under the law.

“Today's announcement helps to clarify the effects of the Supreme Court's decision and to ensure that all married couples are treated equally under the law,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in a statement.

“We are working together with SSA to process these requests in a timely manner to ensure all beneficiaries, regardless of sexual orientation, are treated fairly under the law,” she added.

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