Obama Administration Opens Medicare to Same-Sex Married Couples

Kathleen Sebelius
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius Larry Downing/Reuters

U.S. health officials announced Thursday that the government will begin processing requests for Medicare special-enrollment periods from same-sex spouses.

“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,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement. “We are working together with [the Social Security Administration] to process these requests in a timely manner to ensure all beneficiaries, regardless of sexual orientation, are treated fairly under the law.”

The change is the latest policy shift to come out of last year’s Supreme Court decision in U.S. v. Windsor, which found part of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional.

The change also applies to same-sex spouses who seek reductions in Medicare late-enrollment penalties.