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Thanks to the Supreme Court, Seniors Still "Trapped in Medicare"

In 2008, a group of liberty-minded citizens filed a lawsuit, Hall v. Sebelius, to disconnect Medicare Part A membership from their Social Security benefits. Last February, the D.C. Court of Appeals narrowly ruled in favor of the government, and the case seemed destined to reach the Supreme Court. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court recently announced that it would refuse to hear the case, thereby rendering the lower court’s decision final.

This link between Medicare Part A and Social Security, introduced in 1993 by the Clinton administration and upheld in 2002 by the Bush administration, was put in place by unelected bureaucrats as a means of preventing seniors from leaving Medicare. Why? As I explained last year, these technocrats would rather effectively force seniors to remain in Medicare than allow them the freedom to pick a private health insurance plan.

Technocrats who desire to centrally plan society often use entitlement programs to manipulate the lives of those Americans who rely upon them. This regulation tying membership in Medicare Part A to your Social Security benefits is a clear example of their manipulative methods. If you’re a senior who doesn’t want to participate in government-run health care, for any variety of reasons, “opting out” of Medicare automatically makes you lose your Social Security benefits. 

The administrative state can and should be considered a “fourth branch” of the federal government. Today, unelected bureaucrats are exercising legislative, executive, and judicial powers in a blatant violation of the constitutional principle of the separation of powers. Originating in President Franklin Roosevelt’s “New Deal” and bolstered by President Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society,” the administrative state routinely and constantly expands the scope of federal power to interfere in our daily lives.

Why can’t senior citizens choose to opt out of Medicare without losing their Social Security benefits? Shouldn’t everyone protest such a system? After all, choice is a fundamental tenet of American progressivism. Liberals demand the freedom to do whatever they want, whenever they want, however they want, and without any limitations imposed by external authorities such as family, religion, or community. However, if the government seeks to coerce you, then you won’t find the left interceding on your behalf. The liberal obsession with choice does not extend to the federal administrative state.

The Supreme Court's failure to deal with the administrative state is a painful setback for the freedom of seniors from government-run health care, but we can continue the fight. In the last term of Congress, Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) sponsored S. 1317, the Retirement Freedom Act. With Senator DeMint’s retirement, it’s time for a new Congressman to take his place and to sponsor legislation removing the link between Medicare and Social Security benefits, thereby rolling back the administrative state, protecting seniors, and restoring liberty. After all, if the Supreme Court refuses to act, we must take action to secure our freedom through our elected representatives.

Joyce Sobecky Barron's picture
Joyce Sobecky Barron

If Congress refuses to act to prevent the 20% cut in income in January for SSDI recipients, I will actually be in a position where our family's medical costs are greater than our income, and there will be absolutely nothing I can do to reduce them. This is due to my exclusion from participating in the marketplace while on Medicare, the inequalities in the MAGI, and the ability of states to set arbitrary guidelines for participation in Medicare.

I currently receive $2198 in SSDI with $195 for a Medicare Advantage plan scheduled to go to $250 or so in January. That leaves $1943 currently to live on, in January without the benefit cut it will be $1888.

With a benefit cut, my monthly benefit will be about $1758 gross, with the premium, about $1500. I will still be subject to the doughnut hole, and the refusal of Congress to reign in price fixing practices by big pharma. Our fixed medical expenses will still be $1350 a month, and that doesn't include extras like ER visits, blood work necessary to monitor diabetes and high cholesterol, the mandatory drug testing that costs me $50 every time I want a refill of my pain medication, and diagnostic tests like the EMG I had recently.

MAGI does not include deductions for medical costs, and includes SSDI as income. SSI is excluded from income, although participation in SSI entitles recipients to a plethora of other benefits. Why is Congress punishing those who worked for a living? Is it a plan to kill off those on disabilities to purge them as undesirable from society?