Obamacare’s individual health care mandate may be the most known federal health care mandate, but it is far from the only one. For example, a little-known Clinton-era regulation reacquires senior citizens to enroll in Medicare as a condition of receiving Social Security.
Tying Social Security benefits to participation in Medicare was not the only action Clinton took to keep seniors trapped in Medicare. He also put forth a regulation that makes it almost impossible for seniors to pay for medical care out of their own pocket…yes you read that right, it actually limits an ability of seniors to use their own money to pay for their own health care.
The regulation in question forbids any health care provider that accepts private payment from a Medicare recipient from seeing any Medicare patients for two years. Originally, the administration wanted to ban private contracting in medicare altogether but they agreed to punish doctors who formed private contracts outside of the Medicare program as part of a “compromise” with the GOP. This guarantees that seniors are unable to obtain medical care outside of the Medicare system.
It is not only an unwise policy to force individuals into a government program that is already going broke, it also violates the basic principles of individual liberty.
Congressman Ron Paul introduced legislation, the Seniors’ Health Care Freedom Act that would repeal these regulations.
Here and below is Dr. Paul’s official statement on this bill:
THE SENIORS' HEALTH CARE FREEDOM ACT ______ HON. RON PAUL of texas in the house of representatives Wednesday, January 5, 2011 Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, I rise to introduce the Seniors' Health Care Freedom Act. This act protects seniors' fundamental right to make their own health care decisions by repealing federal laws that interfere with seniors' ability to form private contracts for medical services. This bill also repeals laws which force seniors into the Medicare program against their will. When Medicare was first established, seniors were promised that the program would be voluntary. In fact, the original Medicare legislation explicitly protected a senior's right to seek out other forms of medical insurance. However, the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 prohibits any physician who forms a private contract with a senior from filing any Medicare reimbursement claims for two years. As a practical matter, this means that seniors cannot form private contracts for health care services. Seniors may wish to use their own resources to pay for procedures or treatments not covered by Medicare, or to simply avoid the bureaucracy and uncertainly that comes when seniors must wait for the judgment of a Center from Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) bureaucrat before finding out if a desired treatment is covered. Seniors' right to control their own health care is also being denied due to the Social Security Administration's refusal to give seniors who object to enrolling for Medicare Part A Social Security benefits. This not only distorts the intent of the creators of the Medicare system; it also violates the promise represented by Social Security. Americans pay taxes into the Social Security Trust Fund their whole working lives and are promised that Social Security will be there for them when they retire. Yet, today, seniors are told that they cannot receive these benefits unless they agree to join an additional government program! At a time when the fiscal solvency of Medicare is questionable, to say the least, it seems foolish to waste scarce Medicare funds on those who would prefer to do without Medicare. Allowing seniors who neither want nor need to participate in the program to refrain from doing so will also strengthen the Medicare program for those seniors who do wish to participate in it. Of course, my bill does not take away Medicare benefits from any senior. It simply allows each senior to choose voluntarily whether or not to accept Medicare benefits or to use his own resources to obtain health care. Forcing seniors into government programs and restricting their ability to seek medical care free from government interference infringes on the freedom of seniors to control their own resources and make their own health care decisions. A woman who was forced into Medicare against her wishes summed it up best in a letter to my office, ``. . . I should be able to choose the medical arrangements I prefer without suffering the penalty that is being imposed.'' I urge my colleagues to protect the right of seniors to make the medical arrangements that best suit their own needs by cosponsoring the Seniors' Health Care Freedom Act.