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Obama admin. will "let" states recognize same-sex relationships for Medicaid purposes, but won't force them to

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Something else for Pride Month:

The Obama administration is set on Friday to issue policy guidance to states expanding their ability to offer same-sex couples the same protections afforded to straight couples when they receive long-term care under Medicaid, the Washington Blade has learned exclusively.

Under the new guidance, dated June 10, states have the option to allow healthy partners in a same-sex relationship to keep their homes while their partners are receiving support for long-term care under Medicaid, such as care in a nursing home.

Medicaid kicks in for a beneficiary to receive care after an individual depletes virtually all of their money. To pay for the beneficiary's expenses under Medicaid, a state could impose a lein, or take possession, of a beneficiary's home to pay for Medicaid expenses.

However, federal law prohibits imposing this lein if beneficiaries are married to someone of the opposite-sex who's still living in their home. The new guidance, signed by Deputy Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Cindy Mann, clarifies that states can offer this protection to the healthy partner of a Medicaid recipient in a same-sex relationship.

"A State can have a policy or rule not to pursue liens when the same-sex spouse or domestic partner of the Medicaid beneficiary continues to lawfully reside in the home," the guidance states.
So, the Obama administration is letting states make the decision. There are probably some states that will do it -- and those would be the states that recognize same-sex relationships in some way.  But other states, many states, may not.

But, it's something. And, this could be of great benefit to those couples who need it -- in the states that will allow it.

We'll all be better off when DOMA is gone, of course. And, we'll all be much better off when marriage equality is the law of the land and we don't have to settle for these piecemeal things that help a some people. Every legally wed same-sex couple deserves the same benefits as those in opposite-sex marriages.

Oh, we're still waiting for Obama to evolve on marriage. That won't get us any extra benefits in the short-term, but it's important step that has to happen -- before the 2012 election.

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