The Health and Human Services Department said Thursday it is taking additional steps to bring its Medicare rules in line with the 2013 Supreme Court ruling that opened up federal benefits to people in same-sex marriages.
The agency said the Social Security Administration can now process special enrollment periods for Medicare Part A and B and reduce late-enrollment penalties tied to the programs.
Officials said the moves were specifically in response to the high court’s ruling last year in U.S. v. Windsor, which determined that parts of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) were unconstitutional.
“Today’s announcement helps to clarify the effects of the Supreme Court’s decision and to ensure that all married couples are treated equally under the law,” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said. “We are working together with SSA to process these requests in a timely manner to ensure all beneficiaries, regardless of sexual orientation, are treated fairly under the law.”
Although the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services managed Medicare, the SSA is charged with determining eligibility and enrolling people into the health program for seniors.