February 26, 2014 | by Staff reports
Gay Ohio couple encounters Obamacare snag
Barack Obama, Election 2012, gay news, Washington Blade, Affordable Care Act, Obamacare

A gay couple claims they can’t get family coverage under President Obama’s healthcare reform law because Ohio won’t recognize their marriage. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A gay couple in Ohio filed a federal lawsuit Feb. 18 charging that they were unable to obtain family coverage under the federal healthcare reform law because Ohio does not recognize their same-sex marriage, Reuters reports.

The plaintiffs, Alfred Cowger and Anthony Wesley of Gates Mills, in Cuyahoga County, have been together since 1986 and were married in New York state in 2012, six years after adopting a daughter, according to the suit filed in U.S. District Court in Ohio.

The suit names the U.S. government and the state of Ohio as defendants, charging that they violated the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights by refusing to recognize their married status, thereby preventing them from enrolling in family coverage under the Affordable Care Act, Reuters said.

The plaintiffs said they had been covered under the same policy with Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Ohio for the past 15 years, which included their recognition as “domestic partners.” Their daughter also became covered under their policy at the time they were granted custody in 2006, Reuters reports.

With Cowger starting to scale back his law practice in early 2013 and Wesley retired from his job as a chief financial officer, the couple faced reduced income and became interested in family coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

After initially being unable to enroll in Obamacare because of glitches involving the troubled rollout of the HealthCare.gov website, they said in the suit that they were assured by Anthem they could remain under its policy after December 2013, although premiums would increase by about 20 percent, the Reuters article said.

But in November, according to the suit, Cowger said he received a letter from Anthem stating that their policy “was to be terminated because it was not in compliance with the ACA.”

A new family policy with Anthem would cost about twice their existing one, or about half the family’s joint income, and not be eligible for tax credits under Obamacare, the report said. Reuters reporters said Ohio officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

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