Currently, the two programs are coupled by the Social Security Administration, meaning that if a senior can afford his or her private health insurance and does not wish to accept Medicare Part A insurance, he or she is forced to lose access to Social Security benefits as well. As former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) said of the concept when he originally introduced the Retirement Freedom Act in 2011, “American seniors should have the freedom to make their own choice about health care without Uncle Sam threatening to take away their Social Security checks.”
At its core, the Retirement Freedom Act is about liberty and individual choice to expand Americans’ ability to make healthcare decisions for themselves free from government overreach. However, it is also a positive step toward reforming our broken entitlement system, which continues to drive our national debt further and further up, which is rapidly approaching $30 trillion.
When Medicare began in 1965, mandatory spending at $49.1 billion made up just under 28 percent of the total $178.1 billion federal budget. In 2018, mandatory spending at $2.519 trillion consumed over double that percentage, at 61.5 percent of the $4.107 trillion federal budget. Additionally, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the Hospital Insurance Trust Fund will reach insolvency in 2024, two years earlier than previously projected.
The type of spending we see on both the mandatory and discretionary sides of the federal budget is unsustainable. On the mandatory side, excessive spending on Medicare is one of the primary drivers of our debt. By simply allowing individuals who do not want to receive benefits from Medicare Part A to opt-out of it, our country can save billions of taxpayer dollars and begin to slow the growth of unchecked entitlement programs that have driven us so deeply into debt.
Although President Donald Trump signed an executive order allowing seniors to keep their Social Security benefits if they chose to opt-out of Medicare, President Joe Biden and his administration might reverse that policy. Codification of President Trump’s executive order and subsequent rulemaking is a necessity for seniors who want healthcare freedom.
Enhancing health care freedom and saving taxpayer dollars while taking a much-needed step toward Medicare solvency is a common-sense measure for our elected officials to enact. For these reasons, I urge you to contact your representative and senators and ask them to co-sponsor the Retirement Freedom Act, H.R. 1166 and S. 275.