Obama Extends Medicaid Protections To Gay, Lesbian Couples
The Obama administration on Friday extended Medicaid’s financial protections to gay and lesbian couples.
The new regulations were laid out in a letter to state Medicaid agencies written by The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), an agency under the direction of the department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Currently, Medicaid policies protect the financial assets of married straight couples when a spouse enters a nursing home or care facility.
“Low-income same-sex couples are too often denied equal treatment and the protections offered to other families in their greatest times of need,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “This is now changing. Today’s guidance represents another important step toward ensuring that the rights and dignity of every American are respected by their government.”
The letter, in effect, encourages states to recognize the spouses of gay men and lesbians, even though federal agencies are banned from recognizing such unions under the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
DOMA defines marriage for federal agencies as a heterosexual union. Medicaid polices refer to DOMA in defining who qualifies as a spouse.