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CCHF Health Freedom eNews

August 13, 2014



 

Trapped in Medicare

A new federal document tells the sorry truth: if you drop Medicare Part A (to protect yourself from rationing, for instance), you'll be stripped of your social security benefits and forced to reimburse the government:

 

"...If you get Part A for free, you can't drop Medicare without also dropping your retiree or disability benefits (Social Security or railroad retirement) and paying back all retirement or disability benefits you've received and all costs spent for your care by the Medicare program."

 

Amazingly, in January 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the lawsuit brought against this administrative restriction created out of thin air by bureaucrats. A lower court had said whatever you're entitled to you must participate in.

 

It's also illegal to sell insurance to Medicare recipients. Only employer-sponsored coverage is allowed:

 

"Consistent with the longstanding prohibitions on the sale and issuance of duplicate coverage to Medicare beneficiaries...it is illegal to knowingly sell or issue an Individual [Obamacare] Marketplace Qualified Health Plan (or an individual market policy outside the Marketplace) to a Medicare beneficiary. This prohibition does not apply in the SHOP market [Obamacare small business exchange], or to employer coverage outside of the SHOP market."

 

Although it's illegal for an insurance agent to offer insurance to a Medicare recipient, the Obamacare exchange can't stop Medicare enrollees from buying Obamacare:

 

"The FFM [Federally Facilitated Marketplace/federal exchange] application verifies enrollment in Medicare for individuals who have requested financial assistance. However, the FFM systems are not currently set up to prevent Medicare beneficiaries from enrolling in a Qualified Health Plan."

 

But if you have Obamacare, the document says after age 65 the exchange will cut off all premium subsidies and cost-sharing to encourage you to rely solely on Medicare.

 

Medicare is a trap. Congress has written laws, and bureaucrats have written rules, to prevent anyone over age 65 from escaping it. This includes a 1997 federal law that doesn't allow recipients to pay cash for care denied by Medicare unless physicians forgo all Medicare payments, as per 1998 HHS testimony to Congress:

 

"Physicians who choose to provide covered services to Medicare beneficiaries under private contracts must "opt out" of the Medicare program for two years. During this two-year period, Medicare does not pay the physician either directly or on a capitated basis for any covered services provided to Medicare beneficiaries. A physician must treat all Medicare beneficiaries in the same way; the physician cannot choose to privately contract with some Medicare beneficiaries but not others, and for some services and not others."

 

Medicare has a $43 trillion unfunded liability. The program cannot be sustained without painful and unethical health care rationing to the elderly, or incredible tax increases - or letting people leave the system. But current law prohibits your voluntary exodus unless you pay substantial penalties. It's time to change that.

 

No one should be forced onto Medicare. We need to move toward a Medicare-free future for the not yet Medicare-dependent. And Medicare recipients should be free to pay cash for care denied by Medicare. It's not just the compassionate thing to do; it's the right thing to do.

 

Working to create a better way,

 

Twila Brase, R.N., PHN

 

President and Co-founder

 

 


 




News to Know:

CCHF Issues Special Report

Fraternal organizations once met the needs of members from the worker to the owner. These mutual aid benefits included sick pay, medical care, funeral expenses, financial support for widows and orphans and relocation assistance to find work. These groups encouraged virtues such as cooperation, duty, self-sacrifice, mutual respect, civility, justice, patriotism and thrift. Greg Scandlen, CCHF's Senior Policy Fellow, writes how such virtuous cooperation will re-emerge as the collapse of governmental promises becomes clearer.



Surrogacy Warning

An Australian couple took their Thai surrogate's twin girl but abandoned her down syndrome brother. The Thai government has now issued new regulations that may impact international couples waiting for surrogacy babies. The surrogate mother, who professes to love the abandoned brother warns, "'I would like to tell Thai women - don't get into this business as a surrogate. Don't just think only for money ... if something goes wrong no one will help us and the baby will be abandoned from society, then we have to take responsibility for that."



IPAB Lawsuit Rejected by 9th Circuit

In Coons vs. Lew, a lawsuit filed by the Goldwater Institute, two individuals claim Medicare payment cuts made by the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) will harm them. The federal Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit dismissed the case on Monday, saying IPAB is not yet in place and cannot yet do damage. The case may be appealed or Goldwater may wait until IPAB's first cost-cutting measure, per Politico Pro.



Do They Have the Authority?

On Monday, the White House launched the U.S. Digital Service (USDS), a consulting "team of experts that aims to fix problems with government websites and help upgrade federal technology infrastructure," using a playbook and a handbook, per Politico Pro.  A former Google engineer, who will have the title of Deputy Chief Information Officer, will head the team. Congress has taken some steps at federal IT reform, but the White House's Chief Information Officer says, "I don't think legislation is needed...You can't legislate good management."



A Global Health Data-Sharing System?

The U.S. Department of Commerce is funding the creation a Global HealthWorkforce Council.  The American Health Information Management Association, International Federation of Health Information Management Associations (IFHIMA) and others will draft curricula standards to guide programming and training of "professionals around the world with expertise in health information management, health informatics and health information technology." IFHIMA is working to implement worldwide coding standards for data.



Tricky for Territories!

Obamacare has put U.S. territories, like Puerto Rico, in a tough situation. As reported by "Inside Health Insurance Exchanges," territories must comply with all new sections of law in Obamacare, but sections of the bill that amended previous federal statutes can be ignored. In short, territories will pay all sorts of new taxes and fees without getting back dollars such as Obamacare premium subsidies. Now the territories have sent a letter to Congress asking whether the law's 3.8% tax on capital gains, dividends and other investments applies to territory residents.



Expect Obamacare IRS Form Delays

The IRS released draft coverage reporting forms for 2015. The individual and employer forms have 12 boxes for each month because the penalty is prorated. So next year the penalty is $7.91 per uncovered month or 1% of income, whichever is most but not to exceed the cap (see "Stat of the Week" below). Some individuals must get exemption forms while others need forms from the exchange or their employer regarding their coverage. Expect delays - and unhappy taxpayers who can't file until they have them. If you have a choice submit exemptions on tax forms, not on insecure data-collecting government exchanges.



Suicide over Stem-Cell Fraud

Earlier this year, Nature magazine published two stem-cell papers suggesting stem cells bathed in mild acid could make them revert to pluripotent cells that give rise to all cell types of the body. But scientists challenged the results and the papers were retracted. The lead author of the research was found guilty of misconduct, but his colleague who was not found guilty was "overwhelmed with shame." He was found dead by hanging on August 5 at the research institution.



$84,000 is Actually Cheap

Sovaldi cures Hepatitis C, but it costs $1,000 per pill or $84,000 for a full course of treatment. Health plans say that's too much.  But it's actually a good deal. About 60% of Hepatitis C patients will get chronic liver disease and cirrhosis, which require lifelong care -- and lifesaving liver transplants cost $600,000. But insurers oppose Sovaldi's cost because people change insurance frequently and insurers don't want to pay the cost and never see the future savings.



You're "Sicker" Than You Think

A federal study reveals that while Medicare Advantage patients are healthier than those in traditional Medicare, many health plans exaggerate how sick their MA patients are and how much it costs to treat them. Medicare expects to pay MA health plans $160 billion this year for the 16 million people enrolled. The overbilling situation, based on a complex formula called "risk score," will get worse under Obamacare. Funds from health plans with lower-risk patients will be redistributed to health plans that claim, through risk scores they generate, to have the sickest patients.



Leaving the Public with Wrong Impression

The Medicare administration quietly removed 8 serious medical mistakes from reporting requirements. CMS says the deletions make their reports "more comprehensive." Hospitals with the highest rates of "hospital acquired conditions" (HACs) get up to 1% less in Medicare reimbursement. Did hospitals lobby to remove reporting of "foreign objects retained after surgery"? NOTE: CCHF does not support "medical error" reporting due to inconsistent definitions of "error," inaccurate reports of "death by error," and the cost and intrusions of reporting, but Medicare's latest action is interesting to say the least.



Many Prevention Services Not Cost-Saving

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) examined various preventive services that the authors of the peer-reviewed articles claimed were cost effective or cost-saving. The GAO lists 75 preventive services deemed "cost effective," but only 19 were categorized as "cost-saving." For example, newborn screening for metabolic disorders, including being hypoglycemic, was not found to be cost-saving. Nor was universal HIV screening or intensive tobacco-use prevention program for 7th and 8th graders.



Exemptions Worry Insurers

Most of the uninsured - 90% - will qualify for one or more exemptions to the Obamacare individual mandate and its penalties, says an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation.  There are 9 exemptions in law plus another 14 hardship waivers provided by the administration. So far, about 77,000 people have applied for exemptions. More are expected as people file their taxes.  Insurers worry that younger and healthier people will get exemptions from coverage, causing premiums to rise.




Quote of the Week:

 

"The common good demands an expansion of personal freedom, not an accommodation with its suffocating restrictions," - Robert Moffit, senior fellow at The Heritage Foundation, on why exemptions to Obamacare are not enough and repeal of the "unjust and unpopular health care law" must be the goal, The Daily Signal, August 7, 2014.

 

 

 



 




Stat of the Week:

$2,448 for individual/$12,240 for family - maximum penalty for not being covered in 2014 per a IRS "determination of correct tax liability" rule which follows the law's requirement that the penalty be capped at the national average premium for the lowest cost bronze plan on Obama's Exchange. Thus...the wealthier of the uninsured will not be taxed Obamacare's full tax-penalty of "$95 or 1% of income, whichever is highest."

 




News Release of the Week:

Medical Aid Societies - Caring for Each Other When Care is Needed

 

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Citizens' Council for Health Freedom (CCHF,  www.cchfreedom.org), a Minnesota-based national organization dedicated to preserving patient-centered health care and protecting patient and privacy rights, issued an in-depth report today about the past, present and future of medical aid societies - and their relevance as a flawed government health care system nears collapse.

Medical aid societies were once fraternal organizations, said CCHF president and co-founder Twila Brase, in which people took care of each other. Medical aid groups are not insurance plans, but rather, avenues in which people can pool their money and share resources with like-minded individuals in need.


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Featured Health Freedom Minute:

Huge California Medical Records Database

Two California insurers plan to create one of the nationʼs largest health
insurance exchanges. They will make the medical records of nine million
enrollees available online to doctors and hospitals. I donʼt think they plan
to ask these patients for permission. The wrongly-named HIPAA privacy
rule says they donʼt have to. HIPAA essentially makes our medical
records the property of others for their purposes, their uses, and their
sharing.

 

Continue reading

Twila Brase broadcasts a daily, 60-second radio feature, Health Freedom Minute, which brings health care issues to light for the American public. Health Freedom Minute airs on the entire American Family Radio Network, with more than 150 stations nationwide in addition to Bott Radio Network with over 80 stations nationwide.

Click here to listen to this week's features.

Citizens' Council for Health Freedom
161 St. Anthony Avenue, Ste 923
St. Paul, MN 55103
Phone: 651.646.8935 • Fax: 651.646.0100
Email: info@cchfreedom.org
www.cchfreedom.org



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