KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Obama Administration To Provide Veterans’ Same-Sex Spouses Benefits

Attorney General Eric Holder told Congress in a letter that the recent Supreme Court decision clears the way for this change in policy.

Politico: Same-Sex Spouses Allowed To Receive Veterans' Benefits
President Barack Obama has directed his administration to take steps allowing the same-sex spouses of military veterans to have access to federal benefits, Attorney General Eric Holder said Wednesday in a letter to Congress. The move is the administration's latest effort to extend benefits to married same-sex couples in light of the Supreme Court's June ruling striking down a key piece of the Defense of Marriage Act, and extends the court's reasoning to Title 38 of the U.S. Code, which governs the granting of benefits by the Veterans Administration and the Defense Department (Epstein, 9/4).

The New York Times: V.A. To Provide Spousal Benefits To Gays, Administration Says
The move will allow the same-sex spouses of service members to receive health care benefits, and widows and widowers from same-sex marriages to receive survivor benefits, among other matters (Savage, 9/4).

The Associated Press: Feds OK Same-Sex Veterans Benefits
The Obama administration said Wednesday it will stop enforcing a law that blocks benefits to partners of military veterans in same-sex marriages.  In a letter to congressional leaders, Attorney General Eric Holder said that a provision in federal law on benefits to veterans and their families defines "spouse" to mean a person of the opposite sex (Yost, 9/5).

In addition, the Associated Press examines a program that helps the families of veterans who have been badly wounded -

The Associated Press: Many Veterans' Caregivers Cut Out From Federal Benefit
John Thomas Doody was in a coma and on a ventilator, but his mom refused to follow a doctor's advice and put the Iraq war veteran in a nursing home. Chris Ott quit her job, moved the family to Tampa, Fla., so her son, known as J.T., could be near the Veterans Affairs hospital. She spends most of her waking hours trying to meet his many needs. … To ease the financial burden, Ott relies on a relatively new federal program that pays her a stipend of about $2,000 per month, trains her on how to care for J.T. and provides at least 30 days of respite care each year. ... The extra help has eased one family's financial hardship. Yet there's a question of fairness. For every family receiving the caregiver benefit, many more make do without (Freking, 9/5).

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