OPM extends long-term care to same-sex partners
The same-sex partners of gay and lesbian federal workers may start applying for long term health care insurance starting July 1, the Office of Personnel Management said Tuesday.
President Obama signed a memo last June extending some benefits to the same sex partners of federal workers, including access to the government’s Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program. On Tuesday OPM essentially followed through on that memo by broadening the definition of relatives eligible for the insurance program to include same-sex domestic partners of eligible federal workers, U.S. Postal Service workers and federal annuitants.
But OPM will not extend access to the insurance program to opposite-sex domestic partners, because they can obtain the insurance through marriage, “an option not currently available to same-sex domestic partners,” the agency wrote in Tuesday’s Federal Register.
OPM said interested same-sex couples can visit www.LTCFeds.com to complete a form that states they are committed domestic partner and intend to stay together indefinitely. The federal worker must then submit the form to their employer. Couples will not be required to provide further proof of the relationship, because asking for further proof, “would impose a greater burden on domestic partners than other qualified relatives,” OPM said, noting it does not ask opposite-sex couples for bank statements or other proof of marriage.
Tuesday’s ruling applies only to FLTCIP and no other federal health care or insurance programs. Same-sex partners must answer the same questions about their health as other qualified relatives and are not guaranteed to be approved for coverage. Eligible federal workers do not need to be enrolled in FLTCIP in order for a same-sex partner to apply or be eligible, OPM said.
Though Obama's memo extended some benefits to the partners of gay and lesbian federal workers, Congress would have to change federal law in order to extend them full benefits. Companion bills in the House and Senate await final votes.
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| June 2, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories: Eye Opener, Workplace Issues
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