On Friday, the Obama administration published a series of proposed rules that would extend to same-sex partners of federal workers specific health and retirement benefits, the Los Angeles Times reports (Savage, Los Angeles Times, 7/21).
Details of Proposed Rules
One proposed rule would extend a provision in the federal health reform law that allows young adults up to age 26 to remain on their parents' health insurance plans to the children of federal employees and their same-sex partners.
Under current federal law, same-sex spouses are not eligible for benefits under the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program, according to the Office of Personnel Management's website. However, OPM was able to expand the law's provision to include children of same-sex partners by altering the regulatory definition of "stepchild," according to Politico.
The proposed rules also broaden eligibility in FEHBP, allowing the children of same-sex partners to receive coverage under workers' dental and vision plans (Millman, Politico, 7/20). The administration also added "same-sex domestic partners" to the list of federal employees who have an "insurable interest" in an employee's retirement, the Times reports.
Reaction, Ongoing Actions
Brian Moulton, legal director for the Human Rights Campaign, said that although the rule changes are "small," they are "important steps in the direction of equality."
Earlier this month, the Obama administration appealed two cases to the U.S. Supreme Court as part of its efforts to eliminate a ban on providing federal benefits, including health care benefits, to the same-sex spouses of legally married federal workers (Los Angeles Times, 7/21).