Today, the Administration took important steps to ensure that survivors of domestic violence can access affordable health care. Many survivors of domestic violence have been unable to access the health insurance subsidies because they file separate tax returns from their abusive spouse. As of today, these individuals have access to a special enrollment period until May 31 to enroll in coverage and access the health insurance subsidies [PDF].
There is still more to be done. Women in other complicated circumstances are still unable to access the health insurance subsidies. For example, a woman who was abandoned and has no contact with her spouse will not be able to file a joint tax return. Some married couples have been separated for years without any formal legal separation or divorce and may no longer be in contact. Earlier this week, the National Women’s Law Center sent a letter signed by 49 organizations asking for survivors of domestic violence, abandoned spouses and individuals in other complicated circumstances to have access to the health insurance subsidies.
It appears more will be done this spring. The Department of Treasury sent a letter to members of the House of Representatives [PDF] making clear that they are working on regulations addressing access to the health insurance subsidies for married individuals who do not file joint tax returns due to domestic abuse and other circumstances.
We applaud today’s important steps to ensure survivors of domestic violence have access to affordable health insurance. We hope the proposed regulations expected this spring will provide enough flexibility to accommodate women’s needs, whether they have experienced domestic violence or are otherwise unable to file taxes with a spouse.