Thursday, May 25th, 2017

News and Views

Media coverage of Hall, et al. v. Sebelius, et al. has included the following:

OpEd’s on US District Court Ruling

The Washington Times
HILLYER: Medicare at the point of a gun – Judge shoots legal and logical blanks” By Quin Hillyer

April 1, 2011 – Federal judges disagree with each other all the time. However, it is rare for a judge to disagree utterly with herself and rarer still to do so within a single case. That’s what happened March 16 when Judge Rosemary M. Collyer of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that senior citizens can be forced to accept Medicare coverage they don’t want.

The plaintiffs in Hall v. Sebelius asked only to be allowed to keep private health insurance rather than enroll in Medicare. They did not ask repayment of the taxes they put into Medicare, but only to forgo its benefits. The Obama administration argued that the only way to avoid Medicare coverage is also to refuse the Social Security benefits for which the plaintiffs paid through a working lifetime. “Plaintiffs are trapped in a government program intended for their benefit,” Judge Collyer wrote. “They disagree and wish to escape.”

New York Post
‘Entitled’ to chains – Bureaucrats’ health-care horror” By Kent Masterson Brown, Lead Plaintiff Attorney in Hall v. Sebelius

March 25, 2011 – The Constitution grants only to Congress the power to legislate. There is no greater threat to our delicate system of government than when federal courts allow unelected bureaucrats to make up their own laws. Yet last week, federal Judge Rosemary Collyer did just that.

The ruling has ominous implications for ObamaCare, enacted one year ago but not yet in full effect: This decision would allow the “health reform” law to become even more Orwellian than it already is, without any action from Congress.

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 Washington Examiner
Judge’s surprise ruling affirms yet another federal health mandate” By Susan T. Berry, OpEd Contributor

March 28, 2011 – “In a March 16 decision, U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer — who previously served as general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board — ruled that seniors who elect to opt out of Medicare coverage must then forfeit their Social Security benefits as well and repay all past Social Security benefits prior to opting out.”

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Dakota Voice
Requirements for Entitlements?” By Rebekah Rast, contributing editor at Americans for Limited Government (ALG) News Bureau

March 29, 2011 – All or nothing.

At least that is what a federal judge says about government entitlements. Judge Rosemary Collyer recently ruled that Social Security recipients must take the government’s form of health care—Medicare.

Sound familiar?

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Wall Street Journal
Forced Into Medicare – A federal judge tells seniors to take it or lose Social Security.

March 24, 2011 – It remains a remarkable fact that America obliges most citizens over the age of 65 to take that rickety government health plan known as Medicare. Judging by today’s growing number of health-savings options (HSAs, medical FSAs), some Americans would prefer to maintain private coverage upon retirement, rather than be compelled into second-rate Medicare. Yet the idea of patient choice offends many in government, and in 1993 the Clinton Administration promulgated so-called POMS rules that say seniors who withdraw from Medicare Part A (which covers hospital and outpatient services) must forfeit their Social Security benefits.

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Print and Online

Washington Examiner
You’ll take government assistance — and you’ll damn well like it” Examiner Editorial

March 27, 2011 – With Obamacare reaching its first birthday last week, lots of attention was devoted to the fact that the president’s signature legislative achievement contains an individual mandate requiring everybody to get officially approved health insurance. Twenty-eight states are challenging the constitutionality of the individual mandate, and so far two federal district court judges have agreed that the provision is contrary to the Constitution. Two judges upheld Obamacare, but neither seemed in a hurry for the issue to go to higher courts. Even so, it appears all but certain that Obamacare will go before the nine justices of the U.S. Supreme Court sometime in the next year or so.


Las Vegas Review-Journal
“We’re all trapped”

March 27, 2011 - In a Mobius band-like convolution of plain English, the judge said being entitled to Medicare “does not actually mean ‘capable of being rejected.’ … There being no affirmative filing of an application necessary for a Medicare Part A entitlement, it is a different type of entitlement because of its automatic nature.”

American Association of Physicians and Surgeons

March 25, 2011 – There is no law or regulation compelling seniors to withdraw from Social Security and repay retirement benefits in order to withdraw from Medicare, ruled U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer. Plaintiffs Brian Hall, John Kraus, and former House Majority Leader Dick Armey are challenging a a Clinton Administration rule that bars them from keeping coverage they prefer to Medicare. The Obama Administration filed a motion to dismiss on the grounds that plaintiffs had failed to exhaust administrative remedies. The judge rejected it, noting that one plaintiff had sought an administrative hearing but had received no response from the Social Security Administration for 3 years; such a remedy is “futile,” she said.
“If You Don’t Want Medicare Part A — Too Bad Says Court to Federal Retirees”

March 25, 2011 – A recent federal court decision will have significant repercussions for federal retirees who prefer to keep their health benefits program in retirement rather than go under Medicare Part A (hospitalization) coverage.
Too bad. They lose. And so do a lot of other Federal retirees if this ruling stands and Congress fails to enact a legislative fix.

Drudge Retort
“Judge Makes Mediscam Mandatory”

March 25, 2011 - Yes, the more we see of “choice” in health care, the more it becomes Obamacare Macht Frei. Note: “…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.”

Washington Legal Foundation
Humpty Dumpty Judging: Sorry Folks, the Welfare State is a Package Deal” by Cory Andrews

March 24, 2011 – “Both the Social Security Act and the statute setting forth eligibility for Medicare, Part A, read “shall be entitled.”  They are identical.

There is absolutely nothing in the Social Security Act or the Medicare Actmaking Social Security benefits dependent upon enrollment in Medicare, Part A.  There is nothing in the Social Security Act that, in any way, indicates that a Social Security beneficiary will somehow be divested of those benefits if he fails to accept or otherwise seeks to “disenroll” from Medicare, Part A.  But through its Programs Operations Manual System (POMS), the Social Security Administration has begun requiring those who choose to opt out of Medicare to reimburse any Social Security benefits they have received, declaring them ineligible to receive their monthly Social Security benefits.”

  Independent Women’s Forum
“Doc Orwell Will See You Now” by Charlotte Hays

March 24, 2011 – “I recently recommended a friend go to a doctor of mine. Simple enough. But it was a friend above the age of 65, and the doctor didn’t take Medicare. “What’s the big deal? Just pay the bill yourself,” I said. Innocent me. It’s not that simple, …”

Cleaveland Plain Dealer
“Like it or not, you’re entitled: Kevin O’Brien”

March 24, 2011 – You’d be hard- pressed to name a federal program — whether it “benefits” a state, a nonprofit, a corporation or an individual — that comes with no strings attached.

But last week, a federal judge in Washington, D.C., took a look at Medicare and found nary a string.

What she found attached were chains.

American Healthcare Education Coalition
“A Prelude to Fully Implemented ObamaCare: No Consumer Choices”

March 24, 2011 – The judge in the case had previously noted that the government’s position in this case was based on policy not found in statute or in properly promulgated regulations. Nevertheless, Judge Rosemary Collyer reversed herself and dismissed the case last week – effectively ruling in favor of the government. The startling thing about this decision is that the judge has basically ruled that because a retiree is “entitled” to Medicare benefits by virtue of qualifying for social security that the retiree is somehow mandated to accept something that they are entitled to.

Unofficial Home of Notre Dame Football
“The Dark Side of ObamaCare …”

March 24, 2011 – This week marks the first anniversary of ObamaCare, and if you are wondering where that coercive law is headed, we’d point to a case in federal court. That’s where Judge Rosemary Collyer has ruled that Americans have a legal obligation to accept subpar government health benefits.
“Medicare Is Mandatory”

March 24, 2011 – How nice of the government to thoughtfully confiscate our hard-earned money and use it to buy us subpar healthcare under Medicare. But what if some people would prefer to write off the loot expropriated, and pay again for superior private care? Under rule by liberals, they are out of luck:
“Health Law Opponents Appeal Recent Medicare Ruling On Opting Out”

March 22, 2011 – Link to article in The Hill referenced below 3/21/11.
“You Can’t Opt Out of Medicare Without Losing Social Security, Judge Rules”

March 22, 2011 – The ruling could have implications for the current court cases challenging the new health reform law. A central basis of these challenges is that the “individual mandate,” the reform law’s requirement that all Americans have health coverage, is illegal because the government can’t compel citizens into economic activity. Judge Collyer’s ruling suggests that the government may already have been doing this in the area of health care for the past 46 years. Indeed, the Washington Timesnotes in an editorial that on February 22, “D.C. federal district Judge Gladys Kessler cited preliminary rulings in Hall v. Sebelius to conclude that the [individual] mandate is allowable.”
“Reform opponents say recent Medicare ruling cause for concern”

March 21, 2011 – Opponents of the healthcare reform law are appealing a federal judge’s ruling that seniors cannot opt out of a Medicare program without losing their Social Security benefits.
“Federal District court Judge Rules All Seniors Receiving Social Security Must Participate in Medicare Part A or Forfeit Past and Future Retirement Benefits”
. (free subscription)

March 21, 2011 – 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.
“Challenge to Medicare mandate is dismissed” Link to

March 21, 2011 – WASHINGTON — A federal judge has dismissed a suit brought by a group of men who sought to cease their Medicare Part
A coverage.

U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer ruled on March 16 that the plaintiffs, who include former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, had a point that they are caught in a bind — the statute dictates that they can only opt out of Medicare Part A by forfeiting all of their Social Security retirement benefits. But she said the government is not required to provide a different way out.

“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,” she wrote.
“Seniors Getting Social Security Must Participate In Medicare or Forfeit Benefits, Judge Rules” Link to

March 21, 2011 – A federal judge has dismissed a 2½-year old lawsuit charging the Social Security Administration and Department of Health & Human Services with adopting policies that deny otherwise eligible retirees their rightful Social Security benefits if those retirees choose not to enroll in Medicare.
“No Escape From Medicare, Judge Rules – Retirees would have to give up Social Security and repay benefits to opt out of Medicare.”

March 18, 2011 – Much of the opposition to “Obamacare” has centered around its supposedly unprecedented requirement that everyone must have a health insurance policy in place. But as a group of retired federal employees will tell you, this is hardly the only federal health program that lacks an opt-out provision.
“No Exit From Medicare for Those on Social Security”

March 17, 2011 – U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer, rather reluctantly, said her hands were tied. “Medicare costs are skyrocketing and may bankrupt us all; nonetheless, participation in Medicare Part A is statutorily mandated for retirees who are 65 years old or older and are receiving Social Security Retirement benefits,” Collyer wrote. “Whether Congress intended this result in 1965 or whether it is good fiscal and public policy in 2011 cannot gainsay the language of the
statute and the regulations.”

The BLT: The Blog of LegalTimes
“Judge Dismisses Suit Brought by Plaintiffs Seeking to Opt Out of Medicare”

March 15, 2011 – “U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer dismissed a suit brought by a group of men seeking to cease their Medicare Part A coverage. In an opinion [.pdf]issued today, Collyer wrote that while the plaintiffs, which include former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, had a point that they are caught in a bind – the statute dictates that they can only opt out of Medicare Part A by forfeiting all of their Social Security retirement benefits – the court did not find that the government is required to provide a different way out.”

Naples Daily News
“Washington Calling”

October 11, 2008 – “Three libertarian retirees are revolting against the federal government’s caretaking, filing a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Washington challenging rules in place since 1993 that tie enrollment in the Medicare hospital insurance (Part A) program to payment of Social Security benefits.”
“Lawsuit Accuses HHS, Social Security of Forcing Medicare on Retirees”

October 10, 2008 – “The Social Security Administration and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) are unlawfully penalizing retirees who want to opt out of Medicare by denying them the rest of their rightful Social Security benefits, according to a lawsuit filed by three retirees this week.”

Associated Press
“Men Find Roadblock to Opting Out of Medicare” (article no longer available)

October 9, 2008 – “Three men who say they have adequate health coverage and enough money to pay for their health care needs want to opt out of hospital coverage under Medicare. Federal rules say they cannot collect Social Security benefits if they do that.”

Dow Jones News Service
“Three Men Seek Social Security Without Medicare in US Suit”

October 9, 2008 – “Three men who under current law cannot receive Social Security benefits because they want to forgo Medicare benefits have filed a lawsuit against the federal government.”

Plano Courier Star
“Three Plaintiffs File Lawsuit to Opt Out of Medicare Part A”

October 9, 2008 – “A bill U.S. Congressman Sam Johnson (R-Texas) has introduced may be too late as three plaintiffs filed a lawsuit Thursday in an attempt to opt out of Medicare without facing dire financial consequences.”

National Journal’s Congress Daily
“Three Plaintiffs File Lawsuit To Opt Out Of Medicare Part A” (subscription required)

October 9, 2008 – “Three plaintiffs filed a lawsuit today in an attempt to opt out of Medicare without facing dire financial consequences.”

CD Publications
“Lawsuit Challenges Legality of Medicare, Social Security Rules” (subscription required)

October 9, 2008 – “A lawsuit filed Thursday (Oct. 9) in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia charges the Social Security Administration (SSA) and Department of Health & 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.”

Health Freedom Watch
“Lawsuit Challenges Coercion of Seniors Into Medicare”

October 2008 – “Most important, all three plaintiffs want their doctor-patient relationships free of interference. For them, paying privately is the best way to ensure that freedom.”

Editorials and Columns

Las Vegas Review Journal
Editorial – “Opting Out”

October 10, 2008 – “Let’s hope the lawsuit – based on a technical issue involving the regulation’s implementation – succeeds. If not, Congress should step in and fix this silly rule.”

Washington Examiner
Column by Quin Hillyer – “Lawsuit Could Rein in Medicare Bureaucrats”

October 14, 2008 – “This is a denial of individual constitutional liberty, pure and simple. It is authoritarianism. It is outrageous. And the Bush administration, like the Clinton administration before it, is deliberately and unforgivably undermining several major foundations of the American republic.”

Washington Examiner
Editorial – “Let People Decline Medicare Benefits”

October 17, 2008 – “To be clear, nobody is suggesting here that people should be able to opt out of paying their Medicare taxes. But some senior citizens who have paid their taxes want to voluntarily relinquish their benefits in order to avoid the red tape and rationing they say Medicare entails. How can anybody with any sense object to that?”, Washington Times, Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, Magic City Morning Star, Dowagiac News
Column by Ed Feulner, President, The Heritage Foundation – “Forced Into An Unhealthy Choice”

October 21, 2008 – ” Can you imagine the government forcing you to take benefits you didn’t want? How about a situation where you’d have to sue the government to get out of taking those benefits? Welcome to Washington – and the upside-down logic behind federal entitlements.”

Chattanooga Times Free Press

October 24, 2008 – “It is hard to know whether to file the following true story under the category of ‘No good deed goes unpunished’ or ‘Government is the problem, not the solution.’”

Wall Street Journal
Editorial – “Senior Liberation Act”

October 27, 2008 – “The suit itself has strong legal merit. Not only have two Administrations implemented policy that has no root in the applicable laws, their ‘rules’ are no rules at all. Neither Administration bothered to put its extraordinary policies through an official rule-making in which they would have been required to notify the public and invite comments.”

San Diego Union-Tribune
Editorial – “Gypping Seniors”

November 8, 2008 – “Yet bureaucrats dictate that seniors give up control of their health care or give up Social Security altogether. A lawsuit to stop that is worth pursuing.”

New York Daily News
Column by Pat Boone, Spokesperson, and Jim Martin, President, of 60-Plus Association
“Strong-arming Seniors Will Be the Death of Medicare”

November 28, 2008 – “Allowing individuals to forgo Medicare without fear of losing other benefits is the only reasonable option.”, Press of Atlantic City, Raleigh News & Observer, Island Packet (Hilton Head, SC), Belleville News-Democrat, Centre Daily Times (State College, PA), and
Column by Sue Blevins, President, Institute for Health Freedom and Author, “Medicare’s Midlife Crisis”
“Let These Seniors Go”

February 12, 2009 – “The court should easily recognize that the law is on the plaintiffs’ side… Let’s hope seniors’ health choices are upheld in Hall v. Leavitt so the great gift of freedom remains available for future generations.”

Washington Examiner
Column by Greg Scandlen, CEO, Consumers for Health Care Choices and Senior Fellow, Heartland Institute
“You Will Accept Our Help Or Else”

March 3, 2009 – “For every senior cuffed by the heavy hand of government there’s only one guarantee: Medicare will be that much closer to bankruptcy.”

Op-Ed Articles

Buffalo News, Washington Times , Newark Star-Ledger, Biloxi Sun Herald, and Austin American Statesman
“Social Security’s Catch-22″

October 15, 2008 – By Brian Hall, Lead Plaintiff
“Suppose you work for 45 years, pay all your taxes, and stay out of trouble. At age 66 you apply for Social Security benefits. But the Social Security Administration says ‘no.’”

Broadcast Coverage

Talk Radio News Service
“Medicare Not Beneficial to Beneficiaries”

October 10, 2008 – “Plaintiffs Bryan Hall, Lewis Randall and Norman Rogers are bringing a new lawsuit against the government challenging the Medicare and the Social Security system, saying they would rather proceed with legal action than seek congressional action, since something needs to be done now.”