Since the Supreme Court struck down the Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA) prohibition against the recognition of same-sex domestic partnerships created under a growing number of state laws in Windsor, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Department of Labor, Department of Justice and other federal agencies have rushed to adjust regulations, enforcement polices and other interpretations to not only comply with the Court’s prohibition against government agencies refusing to recognize those relationships but also in many cases to require private employers and businesses treat same-sex domestic partners in various circumstances as entitled to the same rights as traditionally enjoyed by traditionally married couples.
While many private businesses may question the applicability of the Supreme Court’s Windsor holding based on constitutional rights owed by government to citizens to private industry and other questions remain about the meaning and scope of the court’s decision, same-sex couples and their employers should consider the advisability of taking prompt action to preserve potential rights to claim refunds or other tax rights under existing IRS guidance issued in response to the Windsor decision. For instance, certain same-sex couples and their employers may be eligible not only to claim more favorable tax treatment or qualify for treatment in parity for employee benefit plan, income tax and certain other purposes, some couples and their employers also wish to consider amending their past tax returns to claim past dependent status for years where DOMA previously precluded this. To do so, however, affected parties must act quickly to avoid forfeiting their rights.
To help with this process, the IRS recently released a U-Tube video that it intends to educate affected parties to understand its current policies and their refund and other rights. You Tube: Tax Information about
Interested persons should review these and other resources and consult qualified tax counsel for advice if they wish to explore their options.
In addition to the tax guidance, a host of other agencies have issued guidance in response to the Windsor decision. For instance, the Department of Justice has announced that it views same-sex couples in domestic partnerships created in accordance with an applicable state law as enjoying the same rights as traditionally married couples for purposes of federal rules of evidence and other dealings with the Justice Department. Meanwhile the Department of Labor has said that it considers such couples entitled to rights equivalent to traditionally married couples for purposes of the Family & Medical Leave Act and certain other laws. A host of other agencies have issued their own guidance or announcements construing how Windsor impacts their rules. Meanwhile, various challenges and court cases already are emerging that seek to clarify the scope and meaning of the decision as it relates to various rights and laws, obligations of states and private businesses and others, and other matters. Affected same-sex domestic partners and their employers should monitor these developments while seeking advice from qualified legal counsel about their specific situations when deciding how to respond to Windsor and the resulting emerging guidance.
About Project COPE: The Coalition On Patient Empowerment & Its Coalition on Responsible Health Policy
Do you have feedback or other experiences to share about medical debit, ACA or other health care challenges? Have ideas for helping improve our system, helping Americans cope with these and other health care challenges or other health care matters? Know other helpful resources or experiences that you are willing to share? Are you concerned about health care coverage or other health care and disability issues or policy concerns? Join the discussion and share your input by joining Project COPE: Coalition for Patient Empowerment here.
Sharing and promoting the use of practical practices, tools, information and ideas that patients and their families, health care providers, employers, health plans, communities and policymakers can share and offer to help patients, their families and others in their care communities to understand and work together to better help the patients, their family and their professional and private care community plan for and manage these needs is the purpose of Project COPE, The Coalition on Patient Empowerment & It’s Affiliate, the Coalition on Responsible Health Policy.
The best opportunity to improve access to quality, affordable health care for all Americans is for every American, and every employer, insurer, and community organization to seize the opportunity to be good Samaritans. The government, health care providers, insurers and community organizations can help by providing education and resources to make understanding and dealing with the realities of illness, disability or aging easier for a patient and their family, the affected employers and others. At the end of the day, however, caring for people requires the human touch. Americans can best improve health care by not waiting for someone else to step up: Step up and help bridge the gap when you or your organization can. Speak up to help communicate and facilitate when you can. Building health care neighborhoods filled with good neighbors throughout the community is the key.
The outcome of this latest health care reform push is only a small part of a continuing process. Whether or not the Affordable Care Act makes financing care better or worse, the same challenges exist. The real meaning of the enacted reforms will be determined largely by the shaping and implementation of regulations and enforcement actions which generally are conducted outside the public eye. Americans individually and collectively clearly should monitor and continue to provide input through this critical time to help shape constructive rather than obstructive policy. Regardless of how the policy ultimately evolves, however, Americans, American businesses, and American communities still will need to roll up their sleeves and work to deal with the realities of dealing with ill, aging and disabled people and their families. While the reimbursement and coverage map will change and new government mandates will confine providers, payers and patients, the practical needs and challenges of patients and families will be the same and confusion about the new configuration will create new challenges as patients, providers and payers work through the changes.
We also encourage you and others to help develop real meaningful improvements by joining Project COPE: Coalition for Patient Empowerment here by sharing ideas, tools and other solutions and other resources. The Coalition For Responsible Health Care Policy provides a resource that concerned Americans can use to share, monitor and discuss the Health Care Reform law and other health care, insurance and related laws, regulations, policies and practices and options for promoting access to quality, affordable healthcare through the design, administration and enforcement of these regulations.
Other Helpful Resources & Other Information
We hope that this information is useful to you. If you found these updates of interest, you also be interested in one or more of the following other recent articles published on the Coalition for Responsible Health Care Reform electronic publication available here, our electronic Solutions Law Press Health Care Update publication available here, or our HR & Benefits Update electronic publication available here . You also can get access to information about how you can arrange for training on “Building Your Family’s Health Care Toolkit,” using the “PlayForLife” resources to organize low-cost wellness programs in your workplace, school, church or other communities, and other process improvement, compliance and other training and other resources for health care providers, employers, health plans, community leaders and others here. If you or someone else you know would like to receive future updates about developments on these and other concerns, please be sure that we have your current contact information – including your preferred e-mail by creating or updating your profile here. You can reach other recent updates and other informative publications and resources.
Recent examples of these publications include:
- HHS Announces $50M In Affordable Care Act Community Health Center Mental Health Services Funding
- Insist President & Congress Get Real About Health Care Reform
- Logon & Password Creation For Personal Accounts Lend Significance To Consumer Security Concerns About Using HHS Health Insurance Exchange Portal
- OIG Questions Security For American’s Personal Information On HHS Health Insurance Exchange-Data Services Hub
- Will Health Care Reform Be Ready Jan.1? HHS Says Yes; GAO Skeptical
- Businesses Performing Income, Payroll Tax Duties For Employers Confirm Compliance With Updated IRS Procedures
- IRS Provides Closed DB Plan Relief, Qualified Plan Changes List & In-Plan Roth Rollovers Guidance
- Report Documents Disappointing Lag In American Use of ACA Health Insurance Exchanges Despite Administration’s Positive Spin Efforts
- IRS To Tax Health Insurers On Assessments To Cover ACA Section 9010 Annual Fee
- 2014 Standard Mileage Rates Announced
- Exchange Enrollment Kicks Off Plagued By Government Shutdown, Other Challenges
- Affordable Care Act Requires Proper Integration of HRAs, HFSAs, & Certain Other Health Premium Reimbursement Arrangements
- Review Benefit Plan, FLMA & Other Family-Related Policies In Light Of Labor Department Same-Sex Marriage Guidance
- New Final FLSA Rule Gives Home Workers Minimum Wage, Overtime, Other FLSA Protections
- Updated Kaiser Family Foundation Tool May Help Project Which Employees Will Get Exchange Subsidies
- Economic Downturn, Not Health System Reform, Responsible For Decrease In Health Care Cost Trend
- Reminder To Follow Confidentiality, Due Process When Conducting Peer Revew & Credentialing
- CMS Gives Providers Facing Fee Schedule Reduction For Unsuccessful EPrescribing Can Request Review Until 2/28
- Update Mileage Reimbursement Policies, Communications For IRS 2014 Mileage Rates
- Doc Sentenced to 15 Years for Health Care Fraud
- DOL Extends Minimum Wage, Overtime Protections To Home Care Workers
- CMS Releases New Eligible Professionals Guide On Stage 2 EHR Incentive Program
- $1.2M HIPAA Settlement Results From Improper Copier Disposal
- CMS Rescinds Plan To Require Automatic Denial of Provider Enrollment To Providers With Outstanding Overpayments
- Sequester Cuts Small Business Health Care Tax Credit
- NHI Says Coordinated Care Can Reduce Disabled’s High ER Use; System Contains Many Barriers To Providing This Care
- Look At Mental Health Care For Part Of The Solution To Prevent A Future Newtown Tragedy
- 13 Employer Tips For Coping With Health Care Reform Now!
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