A Legal Challenge to Forcing Seniors into Medicare

January 6, 2009

Freedom of healthcare choice has long been an issue when dealing with government-funded healthcare plans like Medicare and Medicaid. For instance, the Watson-Burton legislation attempted to address economically disadvantaged persons who rely on Medicaid for health insurance because they were given no dental freedom of choice. For most families on Medicaid, the choice is either mercury fillings or no fillings at all in their teeth. Many moderate-income consumers face almost as difficult a situation. Insurance often covers only mercury fillings, forcing those who cannot afford to pay out-of-pocket to accept mercury in their mouths.
Now, Health Freedom Watch reports that a lawsuit has been filed to challenge the withholding of social security benefits from seniors who decline Medicare Part A. Kent Masterson Brown, an important constitutional attorney, believes that this Social Security policy is illegal because “forced participation in Medicare infringes on a citizen’s right to privacy and to make necessary choices about his or her own health care, and, accordingly, violates the First, Fourth, Fifty, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution.”
The three plaintiffs in the lawsuit say that forced participation in Medicare Part A interferes with their doctor-patient relationship and their choice of a hospital. While these plaintiffs have catastrophic health coverage insurance and savings to pay for their hospital care, one of the plaintiffs, Norman Rogers, stressed in an a National Press Club news conference that the physicians who care for his parents, who are in a nursing home, face restrictions from Medicare in how they conduct their professional practice. Medicare is infamous for reams of regulations that dictate care, often in contradiction of the doctor’s professional opinion and the patient’s right to choose.
With every indication that there will be a push for government funded and administrated healthcare for all Americans, the limited healthcare freedom of choice faced by Medicare and Medicaid recipients is a lesson that consumers and practitioners alike should heed. 

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