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3/21/11 Press Release – Federal District Court Judge Rules



For Immediate Release
March 21, 2011
Jennifer Berkowitz, (828) 687-2633 or



Plaintiffs Announce Intent to Appeal; 
Case Highlights Extent of Bureaucratic Overreach in Healthcare

Washington, DC – A federal District Court judge [Rosemary Collyer] has dismissed a two-and-a-half year lawsuit charging the Social Security Administration (SSA) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) with adopting policies that deny otherwise eligible retirees their rightful Social Security benefits if those retirees choose not to enroll in Medicare. The lawsuit, known as Hall v. Sebelius, was originally filed October 9, 2008.

“Anyone concerned with what will happen when the bureaucrats start writing the thousands of pages of rules that will govern the ‘Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’ need only look at what has happened in Hall v. Sebelius,” said Kent Masterson Brown, lead attorney in the case. “When they do, they will realize nothing will be optional and there will be no fair, affordable or swift manner to obtain recourse or appeal a decision made by the bureaucracy.”

The plaintiffs announced this morning their intent to appeal the decision “even if it takes them two-and-a-half more years to win the right to make their own healthcare choices, rather than be beholden to a bureaucracy that knows and cares nothing about their individual circumstances,” Brown said.

Judge Collyer’s decision, he said, “provides a novel, new interpretation of what a federal ‘entitlement’ is. Based on her ruling, an entitlement is now an obligation. If an individual is entitled to certain federal benefits, he or she under this decision would now be obligated to accept them. A low-income family, hypothetically, could be required to accept housing and food assistance if that family qualifies – even if the members of that household have objections to accepting public assistance. That, in effect, is the meaning of this ruling.”

The original three plaintiffs in Hall v. Sebelius were seniors Brian Hall of Catlett, Va., a retired employee of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD); Lewis Randall of Whidbey Island, Wash., near Seattle, a member of the board of directors of E*Trade; and Norman Rogers of Miami, Fla., retired founder and CEO of Rabbit Semiconductor, Davis, Calif. Former House Majority Leader Richard K. (“Dick”) Armey and retired Navy civilian engineer John J. Kraus of Plymouth Meeting, Pa., near Philadelphia, joined the lawsuit in an amended complaint filed December 2008.

In their complaints, the plaintiffs alleged that 1993 and 2002 rules added by the Social Security Administration to its “Program Operations Manual” are illegal. Those rules state, in effect, that any retiree who elects to opt out of Medicare Part A will automatically lose his or her Social Security retirement benefits and will be forced to repay any Social Security benefits received prior to opting out of Medicare Part A.

Their lawsuit argues that:

  • The Social Security Act and Medicare Act state clearly that applying for Social Security monthly benefits and enrolling in Medicare are voluntary and that the applications for each of these programs are not dependent on the application for the other. For the new SSA rules to make enrolling in Medicare mandatory violates the Social Security Act and Medicare Act as well as Article I, Section 1 of the Constitution.
  • Forced participation in Medicare infringes on a citizen’s right to privacy and violates that individual’s right to make necessary choices about his or her own health care, and, accordingly, violates the First, Fourth, Fifth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution.
  • The new SSA rules were put into place without undergoing the required “notice” and “comment” rule-making requirements. The policies should have been published in the Federal Register and open to comment by the general public prior to implementation. Not doing so violates the federal Administrative Procedure Act.

In dismissing the case, Judge Collyer said “Requiring a mechanism for Plaintiffs and others in their situation to ‘disenroll’ would be contrary to congressional intent, which was to provide ‘mandatory’ benefits under Medicare Part A for those receiving Social Security Retirement benefits.”

“Plaintiffs are trapped in a government program intended for their benefit. They disagree and wish to escape. The Court can find no loophole or requirement that the Secretary provide such a pathway,” she concluded.

“Judge Collyer’s decision is without legal merit and defies all logic,” said Brown. “She says that ‘entitlement’ under Medicare Part A ‘is a different type of entitlement because of its automatic nature.’ I had no idea the word ‘entitlement’ ever meant mandatory. In all the Anglo-American literature and the corpus of judicial opinions throughout this Country’s history, ‘entitled’ has always meant what the dictionary says it means: ‘to qualify or to give a right to or to give proper grounds for seeking or claiming something.’ How can there be ‘a different type of entitlement?’”


110321 Press Release (pdf)

110316 Opinion Denying Seniors Avenue to Opt Out of Medicare (pdf)


5 Responses to “3/21/11 Press Release – Federal District Court Judge Rules”
  1. BOB says:

    the big boys or girls make up the rules as they see fit ,an fit is what we get after they make things go broke in the middel of the nite ,broke is when they spend our money on what they want NOT what we want or need to littel to late . we need judges to keep the games they play to them selfs STOP WASTING OUR MONEY AND STOP MAKING NEW RULES AS U WISH .

  2. Barry Winiker says:

    My wife has terminal cancer and is on Social Security Disability . Through my insurance company she receives 100% reimbursement because Sloan Kettering is a “Center of Excellence”. Now it appears she will have to forfeit her Social Security as she bravely fights this terminal illness because of this ruling. My family is very distraught about this decision. We need the Social Security, but we will be unable to afford her care if we accept it. She worked a lifetime, and now as she dies, she’s being arbitrarily denied something that she earned. Where is the Judge’s reasoning in this? Quite frankly, it’s outrageous.

  3. Bob Morgan says:

    Just another step in the ongoing saga of the Constitution vs. Uncle Sugar They take your money, and then give it back, but will tell you what you can (or not) do with it. Eventually, everyone will be beholden to “big daddy” like birds in the nest. “Sure I’ll jump out of the nest, and even though it looks like a suicide leap, I’ll do it, because that’s the only way I can hope to get the next bit of food.

  4. Dana says:

    Entitled now means coerced? Changes. We should start at the beginning of this mess. The U.S. Constitution says one must be a natural born citizen to be President of the U.S. This is U.S. law. Once our Constitution gets dirtied and trampled upon, WE THE PEOPLE GET STEPPED UPON NEXT like unwanted COCKROACHES renamed ‘useless’ or worse ‘useless idiots’ — a dictator’s derogatory term. Disregard for law and our much prized “natural born” U.S. citizenship has already been repeatedly demonstrated by the current non-treatment of pre-born persons. These persons with heartbeats, fingerprints, brain waves and citizenship are waiting there, under their mother’s heartbeat for our wider habitat–OR are they just waiting TO BE terrorized by WA D.C. “paid”, so called ‘doctors’? REMEMBER? ” First do no harm.” — or civilization will lose its civility and will CRUMBLE into man’s inhumanity to mankind.


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