Take It or Leave It: Seniors Can't Reject Medicare Eligibility

By Dyanna Quizon, Esq. on February 08, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

In an atypical case of Americans refusing government entitlements, a group of senior citizens on Social Security has tried and failed to stop their automatic eligibility for Medicare.

Like green eggs and ham, Burt and Ernie, and Batman and Robin, you can't have Social Security without Medicare, no matter how much you don't want it.

"To say that you can't decline Medicare Part A and not opt out of Social Security is outrageous," plaintiffs' attorney Kent Brown told the Associated Press.

Apparently, it wasn't a very outrageous idea for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The D.C. Circuit, in a split decision, found that the federal law actually doesn't give any way for seniors to opt out of Medicare eligibility if they want to keep their Social Security benefits.

So who wouldn't want free government benefits?

The plaintiffs are reportedly comprised of five seniors, including former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, who would rather have their private insurers cover all of their medical expenses. The plaintiffs argue that their private insurers had limited their coverage because of their Medicare eligibility.

Although sympathetic to the plaintiffs' plight, the D.C. Circuit ruled that seniors can take Medicare or leave it but the eligibility will always remain. The plaintiffs did have an ally in the dissent, who - quoting Sherlock Holmes - made the argument that the government did not intend to penalize those who refused Medicare. Despite her lengthy argument, however, it looks like senior citizens will continue to take it or leave it.

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