Lexington, Kentucky attorney Kent Masterson Brown, who helped blow the lid off Sen. Hillary Clinton's secret healthcare planning commission in 1993, was back in the U.S. District Court in Washington D.C. filing a lawsuit against the Bush Administration for preventing Americans from opting out of the moribund Medicare program.
Brown is attorney for three Medicare-eligible plaintiffs who claim that services available through Medicare are "inferior to those they currently obtain privately," are "effectively rationed because of government budget constraints," and are "provided without concern for patients' privacy."
The lawsuit further states that Medicare was created as an optional program and operated as such until administrative changes created in the Clinton adminstration and strengthened by the Bush administration revoked Social Security benefits from anyone refusing Part A (hospital coverage) Medicare benefits.
The lawsuit's implications could be quite large. As growing stress on the Medicare system causes it to deteriorate, more people with the means to do so will probably seek to escape it. Allowing them to do so could be a money-saver for the federal government:
"Restoring voluntary participation in Medicare not only is the right thing to do, Brown said, but it's good for Medicare as well, which is facing insolvency in a decade or less."
"If just a small percentage of Medicare-eligible retirees were to voluntarily opt out of the program it would save billions of dollars each year, relieving some of the financial pressure on the fiscally ailing program. If just 1 percent of current retirees chose not to participate in Medicare, Medicare expenditures would decrease by about $1.5 billion per year immediately and by approximately $3.4 billion per year by 2017. Program cost savings would continue to increase by greater amounts for
several decades as the "Baby Boomers" retire."
"Why the federal government would penalize somebody for opting out of Medicare, and in the process penalize itself by unnecessarily increasing program costs, is a complete mystery," said Brown. "It is also contrary to the spirit and letter of the law. We hope the Courts will agree and will stop this illegal practice."
The biggest point this lawsuit may make is to underscore the unsoundness of government control of healthcare. Medicare currently presents an $85 trillion unfunded liability to taxpayers.