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Lawsuit in Ohio After Gay Couple Denied Coverage Under Obamacare

A gay couple filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday claiming they were unable to obtain family health insurance because their state, Ohio, does not recognize same-sex marriage, according to Reuters.

Alfred Cowger and Anthony Wesley have been a couple since 1986 and were married in New York State in 2012. They have a daughter who was adopted in 2006 according to the suit. The family of three had previously been covered by the same family health insurance policy, purchased from Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Ohio.  

Their suit names the U.S. government and the state of Ohio as defendants and charges that their constitutional rights were violated because neither party recognizes their marital status. 

Although the couple, and their daughter, had previously been covered as a family new rules in President Obama’s signature health care law, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), make that policy invalid. Cowger and Wesley had previously been assured by Anthem that they would be able to remain under their old policy after December of 2013 but received a letter in November stating the policy had been terminated “because it was not in compliance with the ACA.”

Cowger claims he repeatedly tried to purchase a new policy through the ACA’s website 

"However, each time, Cowger would ultimately be told that it was determined that plaintiffs could not purchase a family policy since their legal marriage in New York, recognized as valid for federal tax purposes, was not deemed valid to obtain a family policy under the ACA," the suit said.

The couple is puzzled as to why they are able to file a joint tax return but cannot purchase family health insurance under the president’s healthcare plan, commonly called Obamacare.

The issue in Ohio will likely not be an isolated incident as same-sex marriage gains steam around the country. Currently 17 states and the District of Columbia recognize the right for gay couples to marry. A judge in nearby Kentucky recently ruled that that state must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

Cowger and Wesley will likely have to wait for such reform in their state. The Cincinnati Enquirer reported last week that gay marriage advocates won’t push the issue in Ohio until 2016 when they feel there will be sufficient voter support.

Sources: Reuters, Cincinnati Enquirer


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