System flaw denies same-sex spouses state benefits

Left to right: Thadius and Geremy Roderick. (April 7, 2015)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The state had to find a way to work around a computer system glitch to give a married same-sex couple the benefits they qualify for.

In February, Gov. Rick Snyder said the state would recognize the about 300 same-sex couples married in Michigan on March 22, 2014 as legally married. That made them eligible for all the same benefits as straight couples.

Among those couples are Thadius and Geremy Roderick.

“We met actually at the very first ArtPrize,” Thadius Roderick said.

It wasn’t long before the pair began dating and they soon became committed.

“We had our own marriage-type commitment ceremony with our friends and family here on July 23 of 2011,” Thadius Roderick said.

When the opportunity presented itself last March, when same-sex marriages were legal in Michigan for a brief period of time, the two tied the knot officially in the eyes of the state.

This year, they went to through the health insurance marketplace to apply for coverage. The marketplace told them that based on their joint income, they needed to apply for state Medicaid, so they did.

That is when problems started.

“Geremy qualifies for insurance based on his income level,” Thadius Roderick said. “I, however, do not because the state is saying that we are still an individual — I’m an individual he’s an individual; we’re still single — because their computer will not recognize us as being legally married, so therefore I  no longer qualify for insurance.”

The couple said the Michigan Department of Human Services told them the computer system wasn’t set up to process benefits for same-sex couples.

Thadius Roderick can get insurance though his employer, but like many, he said they can’t afford it. So as of Tuesday afternoon, he remained uninsured while Geremy Roderick was covered by Medicaid.

“I want him to be healthy and see a doctor regularly, but we can’t afford to do that. So right now, it’s a worrying game,” Geremy Roderick said.

“They’ve had over a year to try getting this figured out and, you know, with Gov. Snyder stating we are legally married in the state and we are allowed every right that everybody has as being married. And when we come to this situation, it’s like no, you’re married and they’re saying we’re married, but we can’t qualify because of this one glitch in the system that supposedly no one knows how to figure out,” Thadius Roderick added.

He questioned if the state will be ready if the U.S. Supreme Court rules in June that a ban on same-sex marriages is unconstitutional.

“What are they going to do if the answer comes back in June that every state must recognize same-sex marriages?” Thadius Roderick wondered. “Is it going take them another three, four years to get on board with it or what?”

24 Hour News 8 first called DHS about the problem on March 31 and then again Tuesday afternoon. Several hours after the Tuesday call, DHS said they had created a workaround to fix the problem.

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