Speed Read: Wednesday 27 November 2013

1-    AFFORDABLE CARE SUCCESS: The White House liaison to the LGBT media offered an example yesterday of a gay couple which has successfully obtained health coverage in the Affordable Care Act’s national marketplace. Michael Lappin and his spouse, John West, own a small mortgage company in Atlanta. They were married in DC in 2012 and, prior to October 1, had bought health insurance through both group plans and, for the past five years, individual plans. Lappin went the healthcare.gov website and started looking at plans. “It was a little bit glitchy,” he said, “but I figured it out.” In doing so, he said their combined monthly premium for two individual health plans is now $786.28 per month –down more than $434 from the $1,220.70 per month they were paying. “Plus we’ve got better coverage, lower deductibles, lower co-insurance, lower maximum out-of-pocket, lower co-pays, and our doctor’s on the plan.” Advice for other couples who might want to tackle the website? “There’s not much to tackle,” said Lappin. “The system works. It’s glitchey but not hard and if you stop listening to media and get in there and do it, you can save a lot.”

2-   NINTH CIRCUIT FAULTS OREGON BAN: The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Monday ordered the federal district court for Oregon to pay one of its former law clerks back pay for having denied her health coverage for her same-sex domestic partner. Margaret Fonberg was a law clerk for the U.S. District Court in Oregon, part of the Ninth Circuit. She had a registered domestic partnership with her same-sex partner in Oregon but, under a previous ruling by the Office of Personnel Management, was denied health coverage for her partner. Even after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act’s key provision in U.S. v. Windsor in June, OPM said Fonberg still wasn’t eligible because she wasn’t married. The Ninth Circuit Executive Committee said Oregon’s law banning same-sex couples from marrying “suffers from precisely the same deficiency that the Supreme Court identified in Windsor with respect to the Defense of Marriage Act.” It ordered the court to pay Fonberg more than $6,000 in back pay plus interest.

3-   SUPREME COURT TO HEAR RELIGIOUS HOOK: The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday announced it would hear two cases that test the degree to which employers may use their personal religious beliefs to deny certain health coverage for employees. Neither case involves any LGBT-related health coverage but could affect whether employers can cite their religious beliefs to deny such services as alternative insemination and gender reassignment. The two cases, Conestoga Wood v. HHS and Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, assert religious claims against coverage for birth control. Oral arguments will likely take place in March.

4-   QUINN TRAILING GOP HOPEFUL: Illinois’ Democratic Governor Pat Quinn is trailing a leading Republican gubernatorial hopeful by two points, in early polling published Tuesday. The Public Policy Polling group showed Quinn two points behind State Treasurer Dan Rutherford. Quinn is a strong supporter of marriage equality; Rutherford supported civil unions but has opposed marriage. He did, however, tell reporters he would not attempt to repeal the law if elected governor next November. Quinn’s numbers represent a slight improvement over polling last year.

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