Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom Applauds Trump Administration for Highlighting Physician Option to Opt Out of Medicare Participation
New Medicare Participation Announcement Shows Leadership Is Committed to Transitioning Health Care Back to Patients and Doctors
ST. PAUL, Minn.—The Trump administration showed its separateness from its predecessor in the realm of health care yet again with a letter to physicians that highlights the option to opt out of Medicare.
Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom (CCHF, www.cchfreedom.org) said the option was not highlighted by the Obama administration, and that opting out of Medicare participation gives doctors more freedom and allows them to care for and better protect their patients.
The opt-out deadline for physicians is Dec. 31, 2017.
On Friday, CCHF drafted its own letter to Demetrios Kouzoukas, principal deputy administrator and director of CMS. In it, Brase shared CCHF’s appreciation for CMS’ actions and offered some specific thoughts about the new language pertaining to the option for physicians to opt out of Medicare.
“We have compared the 2018 Participation Announcement to the 2017 Announcement,” Brase wrote. “The changes are significant and show a clear change in direction and policy under the new administration. Thank you. Comparing the first paragraphs alone makes it evident that the new Trump administration has a different focus than the previous administration. The new administration clearly desires to transition health care back to patients and physicians instead of increasing bureaucratic micromanagement and intrusive government intervention in medical decision-making.”
For example, Brase noted, the Medicare Participation Announcement for 2017 begins by emphasizing: “the importance and advantages of being a Medicare participating (PAR) provider.” Compare this to the 2018 announcement, which begins with a primary goal of: “empowering patients and doctors to make decisions about their healthcare.”
“We appreciate that the new administration is placing the empowerment of patients and doctors as the highest priority because health care is ALL about the patient and the all-important patient-doctor relationship that leads to correct and timely treatment of patients in need of care and cure,” CCHF shared in the letter to CMS. “Perhaps the best part of the 2018 Announcement is the Medicare opt-out language on the second page. First, the opt-out option is both bolded and underlined, drawing the reader’s attention to this option. Second, the language highlights the serious problems and costs physicians and other practitioners face due to the ongoing interference and bureaucratic hassles imposed by Medicare.”
Brase notes that another paragraph in the 2018 Announcement describes advantages gained by physicians who opt out of Medicare, including direct contracting between the physician and patient, which is prohibited for Medicare PAR physicians.
“Pointing out the value and advantages of opting out of Medicare is very important,” Brase said. “These statements also give physicians and other practitioners a sense of freedom. It assures them that the administration fully supports opting out as an option.
“In short, the 2018 Medicare Participation Announcement is a breath of fresh air,” Brase wrote to CMS leadership. “It focuses on promoting the patient-doctor relationship and greater flexibility for physicians, rather than self-praise for the Medicare program and its new data reporting requirements, new payment and care delivery models, and continuing penalties for lacking robust and meaningful EHR systems.”
Also in its letter to CMS, CCHF urged the agency to find other ways to ease the burdens on physicians and other practitioners. Otherwise, patients may find it difficult to find a doctor in the future—or to receive the timely medical care that’s critical for saving life and limb.
CMS should also consider protective options for Medicare patients, such as the right to opt out of Medicare without losing Social Security benefits; the right to obtain care through direct payment models and receive Medicare reimbursement; the option to keep private insurance as primary coverage; and the right to pay Medicare-participating physicians cash for the treatment that Medicare denies, CCHF’s letter continued.
“Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom sees the 2018 Medicare Participation Announcement as a positive indication of the future plans of CMS,” the letter concluded. “We fully support returning flexibility, control and participation options to patients and physicians instead of overburdening them with costly regulations and bureaucratic red tape.”
Read CCHF’s full letter to CMS regarding the 2018 Medicare Participation Announcement here.
CCHF aims to restore health freedom, for both patients and doctors, and free patients from third-party intrusion through the innovative initiative The Wedge of Health Freedom® (www.JointheWedge.com). Today, approximately 225 medical practices in nearly every state in the country have joined The Wedge, which is using third-party-free direct payment to transform the entire health care system back to freedom and restore simplicity, affordability and confidentiality.
For more information about CCHF, visit www.cchfreedom.org, its Facebook page or its Twitter feed @CCHFreedom. Also view the media page for CCHF here. For more about CCHF’s initiative The Wedge of Health Freedom, visit www.JointheWedge.com, The Wedge Facebook page or follow The Wedge on Twitter @wedgeoffreedom.