03.28.2011 1

Entitlements or Requirements?

By Rebekah Rast – 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?

ObamaCare is now a year old and riddled with laws and regulations that have yet to go into effect, but when they do, “entitlements” turn into mandates. This judge’s ruling is just one step in the direction the Obama Administration plans to take all Americans.

“This judge’s ruling proves that we can expect more of the same kind of mandates under ObamaCare when all Americans are forced into government-run health care,” says Bill Wilson, president of Americans for Limited Government (ALG).

Per the judge’s ruling, senior citizens, over the age of 65, must now enroll in Medicare if they want their Social Security benefits.

Wilson asks, “Since when did government entitlements become mandates?”

This recent ruling is the result of a lawsuit filed in 2008 by several senior citizens challenging the federal government to allow them to keep their Social Security benefits but allowing them to opt out of Medicare. The Wall Street Journal comments, “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.”

Each of the plaintiffs involved in the lawsuit paid into Social Security and Medicare throughout their working lives, but they didn’t want to enroll in Medicare because they had their own health insurance programs, but they did want to receive their Social Security benefits.

In an article written by Kent Masterson Brown, the plaintiffs’ chief attorney, he states, “Thanks to Collyer’s ruling the plaintiffs are now forced into Medicare and will have to give up their private health plans and health savings accounts. (The ruling still allows private ‘MediGap’ coverage to supplement Medicare.) Indeed, all seniors now must enroll in Medicare, Part A, whether they want it or not. If they don’t, their Social Security retirement benefits will be taken from them.”

This entitlement just became a mandate, even though government-run programs such as Medicare are largely responsible for America’s growing debt.

If it can be ruled that a so-called voluntary program can be forced upon a class of people, where does that leave other supposed entitlement programs?

“So does this mean all Americans are required to take food stamps or live in federal government housing?” questions Wilson.

Senior citizens opting for their own health coverage save this country money. As America is at the brink of insolvency saving money on entitlement programs is a necessary step. Americans pay into the Medicare program with every paycheck they receive and when they are finally eligible to elect coverage they should have the freedom to say no thanks. After all, it is America, land of the free, right?

The Wall Street Journal article sums up the government’s way of thinking on this issue well. “For many liberals, the goal isn’t saving money or providing choices. The goal is to force all Americans into the same programs to fulfill their egalitarian dreams.”

Entitlement programs, a staple in the federal government’s budget, will soon be a staple in the lives of every American.

“There will no longer be entitlements, but requirements—with no other option,” ALG’s Wilson states.

Rebekah Rast is a contributing editor at Americans for Limited Government (ALG) News Bureau. You can follow her on Twitter at @RebekahRast.

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