I recently recommended a friend go to a doctor of mine. Simple enough. But it was a friend above the age of 65, and the doctor didn’t take Medicare. “What’s the big deal? Just pay the bill yourself,” I said. Innocent me. It’s not that simple, as the Wall Street Journal notes:
It remains a remarkable fact that America obliges most citizens over the age of 65 to take that rickety government health plan known as Medicare. Judging by today’s growing number of health-savings options (HSAs, medical FSAs), some Americans would prefer to maintain private coverage upon retirement, rather than be compelled into second-rate Medicare. Yet the idea of patient choice offends many in government, and in 1993 the Clinton Administration promulgated so-called POMS rules that say seniors who withdraw from Medicare Part A (which covers hospital and outpatient services) must forfeit their Social Security benefits.
Originally a judge ruled that citizens can opt out of Medicare (into which we have paid all our working lives) and still get Social Security benefits (hey, I thought the government was just holding and investing the money for me-you know, a coercive Chuck Schwab-but I seem to have been wrong). The judge recently reversed herself. Now older citizens have no choice about Medicare. This is a taste of what is in store if Obamacare isn’t reversed. The ruling said that the only way to forego Medicare entitlement is to forego the source of that entitlement, Social Security.
This is convoluted enough, but Judge Collyer’s truly novel finding comes with her implicit argument that to be “entitled” to a government benefit is to be obligated to accept it. This is a startling break with existing legal understandings and raises profound questions as to whether Americans have a duty to accept other “entitlements,” say, food stamps or public housing. Or, as the plaintiffs attorney, Kent Masterson Brown, warns: “Anyone concerned with what will happen when the bureaucrats start writing the thousands of pages of rules that will govern” ObamaCare need only look at this ruling. “Nothing will be optional.”
That might explain why the Obama Administration fought this suit [by those who wanted to opt out of Medicare] so vehemently. The government fisc-and taxpayers-would benefit if some seniors pay for their own health care. But for many liberals, the goal isn’t saving money or providing choices. The goal is to force all Americans into the same programs to fulfill their egalitarian dreams. The plaintiffs appealed this week to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, and we hope for freedom’s sake they prevail.