Medicare, Medicaid propose new rules to recognize same-sex spouses


Staff Reports

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has proposed new regulations that would require hospitals that accept Medicare or Medicaid to recognize same-sex spouses as a condition for participation.

If finalized, the regulations would apply to hospitals, long-term care facilities, ambulatory surgical centers, hospice providers and community mental health centers.

The proposal, released Thursday by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, would revise that language to ensure that terms like “spouse” and “representative” include gay and lesbian spouses for the purposes of healthcare visitation and decision-making.

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“Our goal is to provide equal treatment to spouses, regardless of their sex, whenever the marriage was valid in the jurisdiction in which it was entered into, without regard to whether the marriage is also recognized in the state of residence or the jurisdiction in which the healthcare provider or supplier is located,” the regulation stated.

The agency said the action is in response to the June 2013 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in United States v. Windsor, which held Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional.

The rule is scheduled to appear in the Dec. 12 Federal Register and comments are due Feb. 10.

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