Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom Delivers 1,500+ Petitions to White House

CCHF Pitch Note | 12.13.18

Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom Delivers 1,500+ Petitions to White House Seniors Should be Able to Opt Out of Medicare Without Losing Social Security Benefits

Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom (CCHF) delivered more than 1,500 petitions to the White House today, urging the Trump administration to allow senior citizens to voluntarily opt out of Medicare—without losing their Social Security benefits. Signers hailed from 49 states.

CCHF and 37 other groups sent a letter to the White House last month, highlighting the fact that the current practice of the Social Security Administration (SSA) unlawfully prohibits an individual from receiving their Social Security benefits unless they enroll in Medicare Part A (hospitalization). It also requires them to pay back any Medicare or Social Security benefits they’ve received if they choose to disenroll from Medicare.

This is neither a law or a rule,” said CCHF president and co-founder Twila Brase, “but rather a series of executive instructions added by previous administrations to the SSA Program Operations Manual System (POMS)—essentially a handbook for SSA employees. These instructions limit the options of senior citizens, leaving most of them stuck in Medicare, which is a voluntary entitlement program, even if they want to keep private coverage or keep private insurance as their primary coverage.”

The Trump administration has the opportunity to right this wrong by simply removing these executive instructions from the SSA handbook. Several benefits beyond freedom of choice for seniors include:

  • Protection against a single-payer Medicare for All program
  • Potential development of a market for lifelong private insurance
  • Reduced Medicare expenditures, improving financial stability of the program for those choosing to stay in Medicare

“Making this change will have NO impact on those who have enrolled, wish to stay enrolled or want to enroll in Medicare in the future,” Brase said. “It simply allows senior citizens to collect their rightful Social Security benefits without being required to enroll in, or remain enrolled in, Medicare Part A.”

According to the letter to President Trump, in the past, Americans could waive their Medicare benefits, if they wished, without losing their Social Security. In practice, few availed themselves of this option. Unfortunately, under present procedures, initiated by prior administrations without congressional approval, no one may receive Social Security benefits if they decline Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) benefits.

This leaves seniors with few coverage options today except Medicare because private insurers, as a general rule, decline to cover people who are enrolled in or eligible for Medicare. As a result, Medicare has become, for all practical purposes, the only medical coverage available to most elderly Americans, even if they have other preferred coverage they could retain and they are willing to pay for.

“These procedures effectively trap seniors in Medicare, but you have the authority to liberate them,” the  groups told President Trump.