Health groups urge Supreme Court to axe DOMA

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The American Benefits Council, which represents firms that sponsor or administer employers' health plans, said DOMA's restrictions on same-sex couples' tax benefits get in the way of effective healthcare benefits.

“We want the Supreme Court to understand the unequal tax treatment that DOMA applies to employees who are legally married in states recognizing same-sex marriages and the burdens it imposes on employer sponsors of health and retirement benefits," council President James Klein said in a statement.

The court is scheduled to hear oral arguments over DOMA next month, and a decision is expected early this summer. Many legal experts believe the court will strike down DOMA.

DOMA denies certain benefits to couples even in states that have legalized same-sex marriage. A married same-sex couple, for example, cannot file federal taxes as a married couple, and cannot receive the tax preferences that opposite-sex couples can.

That makes insurance difficult, the benefits council said. It affects the tax treatment of spousal health benefits and the associated withholdings, and it leads to different eligibility standards for tax-exempt "cafeteria" healthcare plans.

Also joining the anti-DOMA brief were a handful of insurance companies, including Aetna and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association of Massachusetts.