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Congressional Record [.PDF]
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Thursday, July 17, 2003
2003 Ron Paul 81:1
Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, I rise to introduce the Senior Citizens Freedom of Choice of Act. This act ensures that participation in the Medicare program is completely voluntary. I also ask unanimous consent to insert into the record a letter sent to my office from a citizen who is trying to receive Social Security benefits without being forced to enroll in Medicare Part A, along with a letter from the Social Security Administration admitting that seniors who do not enroll in Medicare Part A are denied Social Security benefits.
2003 Ron Paul 81:2
When Medicare was first established, seniors were promised that the program would be voluntary. In fact, the original Medicare legislation explicitly protected a seniors right to seek out other forms of medical insurance. However, today, the Social Security Administration refuses to give seniors Social Security benefits unless they enroll in Medicare Part A.
2003 Ron Paul 81:3
This not only distorts the intent of the creators of the Medicare system, it also violates the promise represented by Social Security. Americans pay taxes into the Social Security Trust Fund their whole working lives and are promised that Social Security will be there for them when they retire. Yet, today, seniors are told that they cannot receive these benefits unless they agree to join another government program!
2003 Ron Paul 81:4
At a time when the fiscal solvency of Medicare is questionable, to say the least, it seems foolish to waste scarce Medicare funds on those who would prefer to do without Medicare. Allowing seniors who neither want nor need to participate in the program to refrain from doing so will also strengthen the Medicare program for those seniors who do wish to participate in it. Of course, my bill does not take away Medicare benefits from any senior. It simply allows each senior to choose voluntarily whether or not to accept Medicare benefits.
2003 Ron Paul 81:5
Seniors may wish to refuse Medicare for a variety of reasons. Some seniors may wish to continue making their own health care decisions, rather than have those decisions made for them by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Other seniors may have a favorite physician who is one of the growing number of doctors who have been driven out of the Medicare program by CMSs micromanagement of their practices and below-cost reimbursements.
2003 Ron Paul 81:6
Forcing seniors into any government program as a precondition of receiving their promised Social Security benefits both violates the promise of Social Security and infringes on the freedom of seniors who do not wish to participate in Medicare. As the author of the submitted letter says, . . . I should be able to choose the medical arrangements I prefer without suffering the penalty that is being imposed. I urge my colleagues to protect the rights of seniors to make the medical arrangements that best suit their own needs by cosponsoring the Senior Citizens Freedom of Choice Act.
2003 Ron Paul 81:7
Congressman RON PAUL
U.S. Congress, Washington, DC.
DEAR CONGRESSMAN PAUL: I am writing to inform you about a structural problem in Medicare of which you may he unaware and that I believe must be remedied, all the more so now that there are rumors that Medicare, Part A, might be combined with Medicare, Part B.
2003 Ron Paul 81:8
In brief; the problem to which I refer involves the requirement that a Medicare eligible individual enroll in Medicare, Part A as a condition of receiving Social Security benefits to which he or she is entitled. In fact, the Social Security Administration has combined the enrollment forms for the two programs, so that an application for Social Security benefits to which one is entitled automatically entails enrollment in Medicare, Part A.
2003 Ron Paul 81:9
I discovered this in June 2001 when I went with my husband to apply for my Social Security benefits. I made it quite clear that I would not enroll in Medicare, Part A due to my objections to certain aspects of this program. (The objectionable aspects include invasion of privacy and limitation of medical choice.) In response I was told that I then could not receive the Social Security benefits to which I am otherwie entitled.
2003 Ron Paul 81:10
Further communication with CMS by myself and by the office of Senator Kennedy on my behalf confirmed that CMS and the Social Security Administration take the position that the Medicare program, Part A . . . [is] a benefit completely linked to the monthly social security benefit for those age 65 or older. Indeed I was sent a copy of federal regulation 404.640 (entitled Withdrawal of an application), which states that anyone who enrolls in Medicare, Part A and then decides later to withdraw will have to return all benefits received. (Another document I received states that this includes both medical benefits and social security benefits.)
2003 Ron Paul 81:11
Upon receipt of a copy of the letter, dated October 12, 2001, sent to Senator Kennedy regarding my complaint. I followed that letters suggestion that I make an attempt to file a restricted application for Social Security benefits. This I did in a letter, dated May 15, 2002, to the regional commissioner for Social Security, Manual Vaz.
2003 Ron Paul 81:12
The response to my letter to Mr. Vaz came from the local (Waltham) Social Security office. In that letter, dated May 29, 2002. I was told that it was impossible to make a restricted application, i.e., an application for cash social security retirement benefits only.
2003 Ron Paul 81:13
Thus I was left with no recourse. I could not appeal a denial of my restricted application, because I was not even permitted to make the application. Short of an expensive lawsuit or an Act of Congress, there appears to be no remedy.
2003 Ron Paul 81:14
This is no trivial matter for me. I have now lost two years of Social Security benefits. It is not clear when or if I will ever receive these benefits. All those with whom I have discussed this problem, irrespective of their political persuasion, have been shocked to hear about these regulations.
2003 Ron Paul 81:15
I believe that I should be able to choose the medical arrangements I prefer without suffering the penalty that is being imposed. I ask that you take steps to remedy this situation. I shall be happy to supply documentation regarding the facts outlined above, it you request it. I look forward to hearing from you.
2003 Ron Paul 81:16
Enclosed please find the regulations which state that there is no application for cash social security retirement benefits only. If you file for cash benefits you MUST file for the Medicare Part A (HI). Therefore this can only be translated, in one way at this time. If you do not wish to file for Medicare Part A (HI) you must forfeit your right to cash benefits.
2003 Ron Paul 81:17
If I can be of any further assistance please feel free to contact me at the above telephone number extension, 3016.
2003 Ron Paul 81:18