KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

HHS Releases First Rule About Health Benefits For Same-Sex Couples; IRS Issues Guidance On Tax Filing

In what the department described as its "first guidance" in the wake of the Supreme Court striking down the Defense of Marriage Act, HHS said that all Medicare Advantage enrollees, including same-sex couples, will have equal access to coverage in a nursing home.

Read the press release from the Department of Health and Human Services.

Advocate: HHS Offers Benefits, Joint Placement to Married LGBT Seniors on Medicare
The federal Department of Health and Human Services announced today that legally married LGBT seniors on Medicare will be eligible for equal benefits and joint placement in nursing homes around the country. In the wake of the Supreme Court's landmark ruling in June striking down a key section of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said today's announcement is just the first in a series of changes forthcoming in how the department deals with married LGBT people (Brydum, 8/29).

The Hill: HHS Expands Medicare Options For Same-Sex Couples
Thursday's announcement applies to same-sex couples enrolled in private Medicare Advantage plans. Then seniors in Medicare Advantage need to enter a nursing home, they have the option to choose the same nursing home where their spouse resides (Baker, 8/29).

TPM Livewire: HHS Extends Medicare Benefits To Married Gay Couples
Married couples enrolled in private Medicare Advantage plans (about 13 million people) are entitled to coverage for nursing-home residency in the same facility where their spouse resides. Until DOMA was overturned, that benefit had been denied to same-sex married couples, forcing them to either live in another nursing home or pay out-of-pocket to live in the same place as their spouse, according to HHS (Scott, 8/29).

The Internal Revenue Service made a similar announcement today regarding tax filing by same-sex couples:

Washington Post: IRS To Treat Same-Sex Marriages Equally For Tax Purposes
The Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service announced on Thursday that they would treat legal same-sex marriages the same as heterosexual marriages for federal tax purposes. The new policy, which comes in response to a June Supreme Court ruling that overturned a key portion of the Defense of Marriage Act, allows same-sex spouses to file tax returns as married couples regardless of whether they live in jurisdictions that recognize gay unions (Hicks, 8/29).

NBC News: Married Gay Couples To Receive Federal Tax Benefits: Treasury
The U.S. Treasury and Internal Revenue Service announcement comes on the heels of the landmark Supreme Court ruling in June that said same-sex couples are entitled to federal benefits. The ruling struck down the 1996 law blocking federal recognition of gay marriage. The ruling applies to filing status, personal and dependency exemptions, standard deduction, employee benefits, IRAs, earned income tax credits and child tax credits, according to the Treasury Department and IRS statement (8/29). 

CNN: Married Same-Sex Couples Gain Equal Tax Benefits
It affects how couples will be treated in terms of all federal taxes, including income taxes, estate and gift taxes, health insurance, retirement accounts and employee benefits. The ruling applies to any same-sex couple legally married in any state, the District of Columbia, a U.S. territory or foreign country. It does not apply to registered domestic partnerships, civil unions or other formal relationships recognized under state laws (Sahadi, 8/29).

USA Today: IRS: Married Gay Couples Can File Joint Tax Returns
The new Treasury-Internal Revenue Service guidelines will apply to all federal taxes, including income, gift and estate taxes. They affect personal and dependent exemptions and deductions, employee benefits, IRA contributions and tax credits -- even the exclusion for employer-paid health insurance, which many same-sex spouses previously bought on an after-tax basis (Wolf, 8/29).

Earlier, related KHN coverage: Supreme Court Decision On Same-Sex Marriage Leaves Many Couples Awaiting Federal Rules On Insurance (Andrews, 8/13).  

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