Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Romney Medicare Update

Earlier we took the folks at Cato to task over suggesting that Mitt Romney should refuse Medicare due to the fact his personal wealth means he can afford health care without using taxpayer dollars.

In that post we pointed out:

If Gov. Romney has enough cash to pay his medical bills he probably doesn't need Social Security, but . . . if he wants to pay cash for his post age 65 medical bills he may run in to a problem.

The 1997 Balanced Budget Act, Section 4507, forbids "private contracts" between doctors and patients, essentially making it illegal for a doctor to bill a (Medicare age) patient for services rendered. Private patients cannot pay cash for a Medicare covered service unless the doctor has opted out of Medicare.

So if Gov. Romney (and other wealthy individuals) need medical treatment they will be limited to providers that are not accepting ANY Medicare patients.

The folks at Politico must be readers of InsureBlog.

Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey joined a lawsuit with several other individuals in 2008 against the Department of Health and Human Services to force the government to allow them to un-enroll from the program.

Armey’s argument was that even if he went into the hospital with Medicare Part A and a private insurer, the hospital would choose to bill Medicare because it is a more attractive payer. But he wanted to rely solely on the private insurance company because he said it provided better coverage.

But the D.C. District Court of Appeals last month upheld a lower court ruling that individuals cannot “choose” not to be covered by Medicare Part A.

“Because plaintiffs are entitled to Social Security benefits and are 65 or older, they are automatically entitled to Medicare Part A benefits,” he wrote in the majority opinion. “The statute offers no path to disclaim their legal entitlement to Medicare Part A benefits. Therefore, the agency was not required to offer plaintiffs a mechanism for disclaiming their legal entitlement, and its refusal to do so was lawful.”

Nice to know we have a loyal following.

Still, I detest the word "entitlement".

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