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Gay Healthcare Reform

Timothy Kincaid

June 19th, 2009

If we believe our politicians, health care is broken in America and the Federal Government is the only one who can fix it. Our President is so concerned about implementing healthcare reform that he can’t spare a moment to work on equality for gays and lesbians.

However, a more cynical observation may be that for gay and lesbian Americans, the Federal Government is the problem rather than the solution to our immediate health care concerns. And before we focus on the controversial and highly combative effort to overhaul the country’s methods of providing health care, let’s at least make sure the rules are applied fairly and equally.

Here are four things that the administration could work with Congress to make health care more affordable for gay people… should they want to.

  • Provide federal employees with domestic partner health care benefitsThis is a no-brainer. To deny health care benefits to the spouse of an employee solely because they are gay is un-American.

    Pass the Domestic Partners Benefits and Obligations Act.

  • Stop taxing partner benefitsIf Joe’s company provides his spouse with health care, everyone is pleased. But if Joe’s spouse is the same sex as Joe, and only if so, the federal government treats this as part of Joe’s compensation and requires him to pay income tax on the benefits.

    This tax based solely on sexual orientation is probably unconstitutional, is definitely immoral, and is entire unjustifiable.

  • Allow ‘Married Filing Jointly’ tax status for legally married AmericansJoe and his spouse Fred cannot file jointly on their federal returns. Which means that costs spent for Fred’s medical care cannot be deducted on Schedule A of Joe’s income tax return. For households in which only one spouse works or in which income is not proportionate, this can be a huge financial burden without any consideration.
  • Reverse the ban on HIV travel and immigrationThis requires nothing but the signature of the President.

The President can try to sell us on his medical overhaul based on its merits, benefits and costs. But I’ll not be impressed in the slightest if it does not correct the inequities that the government has set up to unfairly deny health care rights to gay Americans and to unfairly tax them on the ones they do get.

Comments

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Curt Engeland
June 19th, 2009 | LINK

Also excluded is the Flexible Spending account. My husband is being added to my benefits (he’s retiring) and my next benefits elections would be to increase the amount withheld to pay for incidental healthcare. Since this is a federal law, I won’t be able to use his expenses and be reimbursed from my account.

Scott
June 19th, 2009 | LINK

These rules all seem to follow from DOMA. Even if the original policies pre-date DOMA, the current interpretations to exclude same-sex couple equality are in line with this, most odious, part of the Clinton legacy.

We need to shift some anger to congress where the legislation to repeal DOMA must occur. How long have the democrats been in the majority?

Bruno
June 19th, 2009 | LINK

As a side note, the president seems to have very little control over Congress (especially the Senate) when it comes to health care, among other things. This is a pattern we might say is indicative of “1993 syndrome,” where Obama and his administration actually think that Republicans have much say in anything at all. The hapless Democrats don’t even know what to do with their mandate, and this country will stagnate in its own dirty pools until if and when they figure it all out.

ravenbiker
June 22nd, 2009 | LINK

Amen for this blog!

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