Today, U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) joined 12 of his Republican colleagues to introduce the Retirement Freedom Act, which gives seniors the ability to voluntarily opt-out of Medicare while still collecting Social Security payments. Cosponsors of the bill include U.S. Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Pat Toomey (R-Penn.), and David Vitter (R-La.).
"American seniors should have the freedom to make their own choice about health care without Uncle Sam threatening to take away their Social Security checks," said Senator DeMint. "These two programs have been unnecessarily tied together by unaccountable bureaucrats without the consent of the people or their elected officials. Today, if a senior can afford private insurance and chooses to not accept Medicare, they are forced to give up their Social Security benefits. This is not right and it must change."
"Retirement benefits are intended to provide freedom to seniors," said Senator Coburn. "However, current rules tying seniors' Social Security benefits to Medicare Part A enrollment are an infringement upon their personal and financial liberty. By eliminating the link between the two programs, this bill will restore freedom of retirees to maintain a health plan of their choice instead of having bureaucrats choose for them."
"Our seniors deserve the freedom to make decisions about their retirement benefits without bureaucratic red tape and government mandates stifling their choices," said Senator Toomey. "No senior's Social Security benefits should be jeopardized simply because he or she chooses to opt out of Medicare. Sen. DeMint's Retirement Freedom Act protects seniors' freedom and dignity by making sure their retirement choices are their own -- not the government's."
"Every time the government acts, it does so at the expense of personal liberty," said Senator Lee. "When the government tied Social Security benefits to Medicare, it limited the freedom of America's seniors to make certain retirement choices. The Retirement Freedom Act will correct that issue and allow Americans to decide for themselves how best to prepare for retirement without government interference."
"This is a common-sense step toward reforming our broken entitlement system, allowing seniors to choose what health care is best for their individual needs," said Senator Hutchison. "The bill gives seniors choice while strengthening Medicare's finances, which are headed toward bankruptcy."
About the Retirement Freedom Act (RFA):
The RFA empowers America's seniors to opt out of Medicare Part A but still collect Social Security benefits.
o Currently, the Social Security Administration has handcuffed Social Security benefits to Medicare enrollment. Yet, the Social Security Act and Medicare Act state that applying for Social Security benefits and Medicare enrollment are voluntary actions.
The RFA also lets seniors who have opted out of Medicare to opt back into the program without incurring a penalty. With the economy struggling as it is, seniors don't need any extra fees standing between them and any medical attention they need.
At time when spending cuts need to be made, this legislation will bring an estimated immediate savings of $1.5 billion of taxpayer funds if only 1 percent of eligible seniors opt out of Medicare Part A in favor of private health care insurance.
Seniors should have the freedom to opt out of a struggling program. According to the American Medical Association, about one in five physicians overall (17 percent) are restricting the amount of Medicare patients in their practice because their reimbursements rates keep getting cut. The number is even higher among primary care physicians, where nearly one-third (31 percent) restrict the number of Medicare patients they see.