The Affordable Care Act Will Increase Access to Health Insurance Coverage for Same-Sex Couples

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Last month the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in cases challenging restrictions on the recognition of marriage between same-sex couples. Importantly, one of these cases challenges the Defense of Marriage Act—the federal law defining marriage as the union between one man and one woman—meaning that the justices’ ruling will have a profound impact on federal policy that affects the nearly 650,000 American families headed by same-sex couples.

As the Court deliberates the cases in the coming weeks, however, these couples and their families must carry on with their lives and continue to navigate the numerous social systems that too often threaten their health, well-being, and economic security by denying them equal access to vital programs and benefits.

Thus, while the Supreme Court is at the center of the federal conversation about families headed by same-sex couples, federal agencies can also significantly influence the daily lives of same-sex couples and their children. In particular, policymakers implementing key provisions of the Affordable Care Act have already released rules this year that will help increase access to affordable health insurance coverage for these families, mitigating some of the significant harms posed by discriminatory laws such as the Defense of Marriage Act.

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