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Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Federal Judge" Entitlements" are mandatory-people are trapped [in Medicare]

Regulations put into place during the administration of Bill Clinton prohibited folks from opting out of Medicare part A unless they agreed to forgo their social security payments ( and pay back whatever SS funds they had received).

It seemed to take a long time for someone to challenge this rule but someone finally did and the federal judge presiding over the case has now rejected the case with an appeal pending. Here is a link to the decision by the US District Court Judge Rosemary M. Collyer.

Her convoluted and self-contradictory reasoning (see here) concluded that this entitlement ( to Part A) is mandatory .To some the notion of a "mandatory entitlement" may seem Orwellian but at least the judge did offer some interesting comments in her written opinion that suggests lawyers even when they become judges might retain a sense of irony.

For example Judge Collyer said in her conclusion:

Plaintiffs are trapped in a government program intended for their benefit. They
disagree and wish to escape. The Court can find no loophole...

In her introduction she stated:

Medicare costs are skyrocketing and may bankrupt us all; nonetheless, participation in Medicare Part A (for hospital insurance) is statutorily mandated for retirees who are 65 years old or older and are receiving Social Security Retirement (so-called ‘old age’) benefits. Whether Congress intended this result in 1965 or whether it is good fiscal and public policy in 2011 cannot gainsay the language of the statute and the regulations

It seems to me she might have well said, the program is ridiculous but that is the law -get over it.

DrRich takes up this case (see here) in his blog and considers this case in the broader context of his lingering (or growing) concern about the possibility that down the road seniors and others may face a health care system which prohibits the patient from purchasing any health care not approved by the central authorities. See here for his earlier commentaries on the efforts to limit individual prerogatives in obtaining medical care. I share his concern.

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