2/3/10 John Kraus’s letter to Ms. Moss-Coane
February 3, 2010
When I called WHYY this morning and pointed out how the Social Security Administration (SSA) REQUIRED that monthly benefit recipients also enroll in Medicare Part A, Mr. Walker made the erroneous statement that Medicare Part A and Social Security are both mandatory. What is mandatory is the payroll tax for these two programs, not participation in their benefits. He went on about the Medicare Part A “premium” payments being deducted from monthly SS benefits, when it is Medicare Part B that requires a premium payment for coverage. He certainly should have known these distinctions from his time in government.
My point about the, “REQUIREMENT”, to be enrolled in Part A in order to collect monthly retirement benefits is that it is merely a statement in the SSA’s Program Operations Manual System, (POMS), section HI 00801.002, (http:/policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/links/0600801002).
It is not a requirement found anywhere in legislation, U.S. Code, or other regulation. It is thus not a legal requirement, since it was not promulgated through the legislative process. However, the SSA continues to require Part A enrollment as a condition of receiving monthly retirement benefits, but not vice-versa. With Medicare facing insolvency in the near future, why must we sue the federal government to remove ourselves from Medicare coverage without losing monthly SS benefits? We are not asking to recover the Medicare taxes paid, only to not be forced into Part A coverage. Furthermore, why must we sue to not have to pay back all monthly benefits collected up to the time that we want to subsequently withdraw from Part A?
The law suit has been given coverage in the media nationwide. We have so far had a favorable opinion on the suit’s merits from the D.C. Federal District court, but the Health and Human Services Department (HHS) continues to waste taxpayer money by having the Justice Department pursue further appeals, presumably in the hope that we plaintiffs will be defeated by exhaustion. The details of the court action are found at:
I hope that you or another appropriate NPR venue address this issue by having someone from the SSA, the HHS, or Justice appear to explain why these agencies continue to oppose this action. MY guess is that they will decline to do so. As this suit enters its third year, we are still at a loss to understand why they continue to oppose being able to unconditionally remove oneself from Part A coverage. Wouldn’t the Medicare program benefit by not having to pay medical procedure reimbursements for those who do not want to be in the program?
Plymouth Meeting, PA
John Kraus is a plaintiff in The Fund for Personal Liberty’s Medicare Lawsuit. Marty Moss-Coane is host of Radio Times on WHYY, an NPR affiliate in Philadelphia. David M. Walker is President and CEO of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation.