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Same-sex couples guaranteed equal access to nursing homes

August 29, 2013
by Sandra Hoban, Managing Editor
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All legally married beneficiaries in private Medicare plans have equal rights when a partner or spouse requires nursing home care the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced today. In  July 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional.

As a result, this guidance ensures that same sex couples “will have access to coverage in a nursing home where their spouse lives, regardless of their sexual orientation,” according to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Secretary Marilyn Tavenner.

In the memo, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said, “Today’s announcement is the first of many steps… 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 explains that the coverage guarantee applies equally to couples who are legally joined in a same-sex marriage, regardless of where they live.

Related article: Same-sex couples guaranteed access to partners in nursing homes