In a recent Inside Health Policy article titled “CMS Withdraws Last Three Trump-Era Regs From OMB Review” (January 29, 2021), journalist Michelle Stein reported that the Biden Administration “has withdrawn three separate Trump era regulations — one to allow individuals to access Social Security benefits without taking Medicare Part A coverage, one on third-party pay for dialysis and one on accrediting organization oversight.”
Focusing on the proposal to allow individuals to forego Part A coverage while collecting Social Security, Stein notes that it is:
tied to former President Donald Trump’s executive order on Medicare and would allow individuals to collect their Social Security benefits without participating in Medicare Part A. A 2012 D.C. Circuit case, Hall v. Sebelius, said there was no way under statute to sever the link between Part A and Social Security benefits after plaintiffs had sued to force then-HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to provide a way for would-be Medicare beneficiaries to give up that coverage. But Trump directed HHS to create a path for people to give up such coverage, which the Center for Medicare Advocacy noted at the time was a long-standing conservative goal.
In a Weekly Alert (October 10, 2019) analyzing this October 2019 executive order referenced above, the Center for Medicare Advocacy discussed the potential damage to the Medicare program if this provision were finalized:
Allowing people to opt out of Medicare would undermine the universality of the Medicare program. Allowing individuals who can self-fund their health care to decline Medicare erodes shared experiences, commitment to, and investments in our nation’s flagship insurance program, and therefore can erode widespread, popular support for the program and make it more susceptible to negative changes. Further, if healthier and wealthier people opt out, as noted by Vox, it “would fundamentally alter the Medicare risk pool.”
We applaud the Biden Administration’s action to identify and withdraw this misguided rule.
February 4, 2021 – D. Lipschutz