March 28, 2014. Cincinnati, Ohio. Today Al Cowger Jr. and Tony Wesley Jr. voluntarily dismissed their lawsuit challenging Ohio’s same-sex marriage recognition bans.
They do so following the March 14, 2014 guidance issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight explaining that a health insurance issuer in the group or individual market that offers coverage of an opposite-sex spouse may not refuse to offer coverage of a same-sex spouse.
Further, the state of Ohio, in a March 17 motion filed in the case, stated its legal position that “Ohio insurance law does not prohibit [insurance companies] from selling an insurance policy to anyone it chooses to define in the policy as eligible for coverage. “In other words, the State is not attempting to enforce its marriage recognition bans against same-sex couples in the context of insurance law.
In light of these pronouncements, the Plaintiffs were able to obtain a family policy through the healthcare.gov website that will take effect in April.
Mr. Cowger said: “We are pleased with the result, and happy that even in Ohio we are now able to get family coverage. We encourage any LGBT couple who are validly married in any jurisdiction, but who were not able to buy insurance via Healthcare.gov to apply immediately, by the deadline of Monday March 31, 2014. We also want to thank our new insurer, Medical Mutual of Ohio, for being so helpful in getting through the final steps of combining our individual policies into one family policy”
Mr. Cowger and Mr. Wesley, who have been in a committed relationship for twenty-eight years, were legally married in New York in 2012. They have one daughter. As alleged in the Complaint filed in the Northern District of Ohio in February 2014, despite over one-hundred hours of effort to obtain a family insurance policy through the Affordable Care Act, the family was repeatedly denied coverage because, they were told, Ohio does not recognize their marriage. Other litigation seeking full marriage recognition for married same-sex couples has been filed by the firm of Gerhardstein & Branch Co. LPA and moves forward.
Contact: Al Gerhardstein (O) 513.621.91513.621.9100 (C) 513.659.4765