The Obama administration on Friday issued a policy guidance memo that effectively gives same sex couples the same protections as straight couples under Medicaid, the public health program for poor Americans.
While the memo does not carry the weight of law, it advises states that the administration does not consider the Defense of Marriage Act to specifically block same sex partners from equal protections under Medicaid.
Specifically, the memo says that a healthy same sex partner may be protected from a provision in Medicaid that lets the states place a lien on property to pay for medical care, if the state so chooses.
By establishing a regulatory “floor,” it would let states decide the “ceiling” and “incorporate their criteria for determining when to impose a lien in the Medicaid State plan,” according to a report by The Washington Blade.
“Low-income same-sex couples are too often denied equal treatment and the protections offered to other families in their greatest times of need,” Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said in a prepared statement. “That is now changing. Today’s guidance represents another important step toward ensuring the rights and dignity of every American are respected by their government.”
The full policy guidance document was available online. (DOC)
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