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Beltway Confidential

Kathleen Sebelius extends Medicare Advantage to same-sex couples

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Beltway Confidential,Joel Gehrke,Gay Marriage,Supreme Court,Health and Human Services,DOMA,Medicare and Medicaid,Analysis

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that same-sex couples will have access to Medicare Advantage, a policy change made in light of the Supreme Court’s invalidation of the Defense of Marriage Act.

“HHS is working swiftly to implement the Supreme Court’s decision and maximize federal recognition of same-sex spouses in HHS programs,” Sebelius said in a statement.  “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.”

The announcement comes on the same day that the Treasury Department stated that “married gay couples living in all U.S. states can file joint federal tax returns, even if their local authorities don’t recognize their marriages,” according to a Bloomberg report.

“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,”  Marilyn Tavenner, the government’s top Medicare official, said in a statement on the new HHS policy.

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