Senate health insurance bill keeps “gay tax” on benefits

For awhile, it looked like there may have been a benefit for LGBT couples in the health insurance bills moving through Congress. Don’t count on it.

Great catch by jstephenclark in a diary now on the front page of Pam’s House Blend. This isn’t good.

The version of health care legislation approved by the House of Representatives would eliminate this “gay tax.” H.R. 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act, contains a provision, section 571, that would broaden the tax exemption to include anyone designated as a dependent under an employer’s insurance plan, including same-sex spouses and partners.

The version of health care legislation formulated by Reid and endorsed by all 60 Senate Democrats, in contrast, contains no provision to eliminate the “gay tax.” If this version passes the Senate as is, the fate of the “gay tax” would depend on closed-door negotiations between the House and Senate–and the Obama Administration–in conference committee.

Now would be a good time for a little of that promised “fierce advocacy” to support of a modest provision that would both eliminate an unjust discrimination and make it significantly easier for LGBT people to obtain insurance coverage for every member of their families.

Yes, it would be a good time. But, does anyone think the Obama administration is going to fight for this benefit for same-sex couples in the health insurance bill? Conservative Democrats Ben Nelson and Kent Conrad have already stated there won’t be any changes to the Senate bill in conference.

On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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