The Advocate
August 29, 2013

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. 

"Today, Medicare is ensuring that all beneficiaries will have equal access to coverage in a nursing home where their spouse lives, regardless of their sexual orientation," said Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services administrator Marilyn Tavenner in a statement. "Prior to this, a beneficiary in a same-sex marriage enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan did not have equal access to such coverage and, as a result, could have faced time away from his or her spouse or higher costs because of the way that marriage was defined for this purpose."