KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Wal-Mart To Offer Health Benefits To Same-Sex Partners Of Employees

The nation's largest private employer said it's making the move to have one policy for the entire company, which must otherwise navigate each state's laws regarding civil unions and domestic partnerships.

Los Angeles Times: Wal-Mart Extends Health Insurance To Workers' Same-Sex Partners
Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the largest private employer in the country, plans to start offering health coverage next year to domestic partners of full-time employees -- including those in same-sex relationships. The extension, outlined in a postcard sent to workers this week, follows a series of recent court rulings in favor of gay marriage around the country (Hsu, 8/27).

The Wall Street Journal: Wal-Mart To Offer Health Benefits To Domestic Partners Of U.S. Workers
The extension of health benefits marks a major change for the country's largest private employer of 1.3 million U.S. workers, which has been targeted by gay-rights advocacy groups for failing to do so. Previously, Wal-Mart had offered benefits to the domestic partners of employees in states that required the retailer to do so by law (Banjo, 8/27).

Reuters: Wal-Mart Offers Health Benefits To U.S. Workers' Domestic Partners
Wal-Mart Stores Inc said on Tuesday it will offer health insurance benefits to domestic partners of its U.S. employees starting next year, following the lead of other major companies. The world's largest retailer, based in Bentonville, Arkansas, also plans to begin to offer vision care to its eligible employees and their dependents, according to information the retailer sent to workers this week (Wohl, 8/27).

The Associated Press: Wal-Mart Expands Benefits To Domestic Partners
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. will extend its health care benefits to its U.S. workers' domestic partners, including those of the same sex, starting Jan. 1. The nation's largest private employer, which has been a target of attacks by labor groups for what they criticize are skimpy wages and benefits, said Tuesday that the changes were made so it could have one uniform policy for all 50 states at a time when some states have their own definitions of what constitutes domestic partnerships and civil unions (D’Innocenzio, 8/27).

The Hill: Wal-Mart Will Offer Health Coverage To Workers' Partners Starting In 2014
The largest private employer in the United States will provide health insurance to the domestic partners of its U.S. workers starting next year in a major victory for gay rights activists. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer, announced this week that it will allow employees' partners to receive health benefits under its insurance plans (Viebeck, 8/27). 

In the meantime, before the Department of Veterans Affairs can give benefits to married, same-sex couples, the VA secretary said Tuesday that it needs more clarity from Congress or the courts --

The Associated Press/Washington Post: VA Secretary Says Law Governing Veterans Benefits Contained Similar Language To DOMA
Congress or the courts may still have more work to do before the VA can start providing federal benefits to married, same-sex couples, according to VA Secretary Eric Shinseki. The Supreme Court ruled in June that a law, the federal Defense of Marriage Act, denying federal tax, health and pension benefits to married, same-sex couples was unconstitutional. The law governing veteran's benefits contained similar provisions, Shinseki said (8/27).

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