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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.