DOMA repeal: What does it mean for the ACA?

When the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was found unconstitutional by a 5-4 Supreme Court vote this week, it was a huge moment for civil rights in America. But what does it mean for the Affordable Care Act?

NPR points out that it will make a big difference in benefits for both federal employees and people becoming newly eligible for health insurance under the ACA next year. Once new policies are implemented, federal employees in same-sex marriages will be able to enroll their partners in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan.

"While we recognize that our married gay and lesbian employees have already waited too long for this day, we ask for their continued patience as we take the steps necessary to review the Supreme Court's decision and implement it," says Elaine Kaplan, acting director of the federal government's Office of Personnel Management, according to NPR.

Military personnel in same-sex marriages will now also be able to obtain health benefits for spouses. What's yet to be figured out is how federal and state laws will intersect in states where same-sex marriage is illegal.

The article also points out that same-sex marriages may not be financially beneficial for partners earning similar salaries, as explained in a memo sent out by Jackson Hewitt Tax Service yesterday.

MedPageToday explains that, for example, a legally married same-sex couple both earning $40,000/year would have been eligible for tax credits under the ACA before the ruling, but making a combined $80,000, neither one would be eligible.

"Suffice it to say, it's complicated," Brian Haile of Jackson Hewitt told NPR.  

To learn more:
- check out the Jackson Hewitt memo (.pdf)
- read the NPR article
- read the MedPage Today article

Related Articles:
HHS: Health reform improves care for LGBT patients
Blue Cross offers coverage for same-sex partners
Blues plan overhauls provider contract to coordinate care

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