Health Freedom Watch
NVIC Finds "Anti-Terror" Bill Overrides
States' Rights and Mandates a National Electronic Tracking System
The National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) announced on
February 4 that legislation introduced by Senators Judd Gregg
and Bill Frist titled "Protecting America in the War on Terror
Act of 2005" (S. 3) is an "assault on the Constitution" and
a serious threat to protecting the health [freedom] and informed-consent
rights of citizens.
"This bill is labeled as an 'anti-terror' bill," said NVIC president
and co-founder Barbara Loe Fisher, "but it is a power grab by
the federal government and an assault on self-governance and
the informed consent ethic. It takes away the freedom of the
people to make their voices heard through their elected state
representatives and protect themselves from unsafe drugs. and
unsafe vaccines, such as those that contain high levels of mercury.
It gives unprecedented liability protection to the drug industry
and broad powers to federal officials to hide the truth from
the people about vaccine and prescription drug risks. The Tenth
Amendment to the Constitution specifies that 'The powers not
delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited
by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively,
or to the people.'" Fisher stressed, "Protecting the public
health was not delegated to the federal government and public
health laws, including laws governing use of vaccines, have
always been under the control of citizens residing in each state."
Additionally, Fisher reports that the legislation "creates and
funds a mandatory, national electronic tracking system operated
by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to monitor vital records
of citizens relating to both notifiable and non-notifiable diseases
and 'new trends' and 'patterns in public health.'" She notes
the bill also "creates penalties for states and health care
providers not reporting in a 'timely manner' to the national
"S. 3 is being promoted by sponsors as a military veteran benefit
bill because it raises the death benefits and other financial
support for the families of soldiers who lost their lives in
the war in Iraq," noted Fisher. "The irony of this bill is that
it is using the families of citizens who have given their lives
to defend our nation's freedom in order to take rights and freedoms
away from other families. Military veterans should not be used
to protect the drug industry and take away the freedom for all
Americans to have their voices heard through their elected state
representatives. In his Inaugural speech, President Bush said
'There is no justice without freedom.' This bill does not serve
justice or freedom," Fisher said.
To read the complete bill text of S.3, visit the Congressional
legislative database (http://thomas.loc.gov)
and search for bill number S.3.
For a copy of NVIC's full press release, see: http://www.nvic.org.
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Who's Shaping Our Genetic Health Policies?The UK Biobank.
Upcoming Federal Genetics Meeting on February 28 and March
A federal committee charged with advising the secretary of Health
and Human Services (HHS) on genetics issues will hold an open
meeting on February 28 and March 1. The meeting will be broadcast
over the Internet.
The agenda of the Secretary's Advisory Committee on Genetics,
Health, and Society (SACGHS) meeting includes discussion of:
A report on heritable disorders and genetic diseases in
newborns and children;
The National Health Information Initiative;
An update on federal genetic nondiscrimination legislation;
Ethical, legal and social issues of large population studies;
The dichotomy between social identity and ancestry in large
population studies; and
There will also be time allotted for public comments.
This SACGHS was established in 2002 to "provide a forum for
expert discussion and deliberation and the formulation of advice
and recommendations on the range of complex and sensitive medical,
ethical, legal and social issues raised by new technological
developments in human genetics." It also works with other federal
agencies and makes recommendations to the HHS secretary concerning
how genetics issues should be addressed.
In 2004 the SACGHS published a report citing priority areas
for studying genetics, health, and society. The 62-page report
titled "A Roadmap for the Integration of Genetics and Genomics
into Health and Society" can be accessed online at: ( http://www4.od.nih.gov/oba/SACGHS/reports/SACGHSPriorities.pdf).
For information about the upcoming SACGHS meeting, the full
agenda, and how to attend via the Internet, visit: (http://www4.od.nih.gov/oba/SACGHS/meetings/Feb2005/SACGHSFeb2005.htm).
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Government Imposes a Huge Financial
Penalty on Seniors Who Reject Socialized Medicine
On February 11 we posted an important document at our website:
"What Every American Needs to Know about Social Security and
the Mandatory Medicare-Enrollment Policy."
This brief paper explains that seniors who attempt to reject
Medicare Part A (the socialized hospital program) pay a huge
financial penalty. It addresses the following issues:
Why should you care about this?
What is the source of the policy?
How does the federal government enforce it?
Was this how Medicare was supposed to work?
What can be done to restore seniors' health freedom?
Here are some excerpts from the paper:
Why Should You Care about this Policy?
Why would anyone want to reject "free" government health care
and use private health insurance instead for services Medicare
Just as many parents choose to pay for private schooling even
though they've paid taxes and public school is "freely" available,
seniors might opt to pay privately for their health care and
insurance for a number of reasons. Consider the following:
Federal Policy Dictates Mandatory Enrollment?
- Medicare has the final say on hospital and doctor fees
and threatens to expel doctors from the program if they charge
patients extra for "deluxe" versions of services already covered
by the program.
Medicare dictates what services and treatments are "medically
necessary" and covered for seniors and disabled persons. Some
patients have found that Medicare coverage has actually hurt,
rather than helped, their treatment regimen.
- Medicare requires that claims be submitted to the federal
government and audits provider/patient information for fraud
and abuse. Seniors who want to maintain a truly confidential
doctor-patient relationship might opt to pay privately.
The Social Security Administration's HI 00801.002 "Waiver of
HI Entitlement by Monthly Beneficiary" states:
Individuals entitled to monthly [Social Security]
benefits which confer eligibility for HI [Hospital Insurance]
may not waive HI entitlement. The only way
to avoid HI entitlement is through withdrawal of the monthly
benefit application. Withdrawal requires repayment of all RSDI
[Retirement, Survivors, and Disability Insurance]
and HI benefit payments made. (Emphasis added.)How
Does the Federal Government Enforce Its Mandatory Enrollment
The federal government forces citizens to sign up for Medicare
Part A when they apply for Social Security benefits. The Social
Security Administration even combines the applications for both
programs into a single form. No form currently exists for Social
Security benefits only. It's all or nothing.
Was Medicare Supposed to Work this Way?
No. When Medicare was created in 1965, Congress promised that
the program would not interfere with citizens' freedom to purchase
private health insurance. The original Medicare law (which
amended the Social Security Act by creating Title XVIII-Health
Insurance for the Aged) included the following provision (which
Sec. 1803. OPTION TO INDIVIDUALS TO OBTAIN OTHER
HEALTH INSURANCE PROTECTION: Nothing contained in this title
shall be construed to preclude any State from providing, or
any individual from purchasing or otherwise securing,
protection against the cost of any health services. (Emphasis
added.)Additionally, the original Medicare law
stated in Section 1802, "[F]ree choice by patient guaranteed."
But this provision was amended and seniors' freedom was limited
with passage of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. That law included
Section 4507, which penalizes physicians who accept private
payment for Medicare-covered services: any doctor who does so
must stop seeing all Medicare patients for two years. The United
Seniors Association challenged this rule in federal court, but
the court avoided the issue, ruling only that non-covered
services could be privately paid for.
What Can Be Done to Restore Seniors' Health Freedom?
Given the coming financial challenges to both Social Security
and Medicare, this freedom-reducing policy must be reconsidered
now. To ensure that all Americans are free to pay privately
for the health insurance and medical care of their choice, Congress
policy changes will help ensure that physicians are most responsive
to individual patients, rather than to the federal government.
- Sever the link between Social Security and
Medicare Part A, so that enrollment in the latter is not a condition
of receiving benefits from the former. The applications for
the two programs should be separated.
Repeal Section 4507 of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 (Sec.
1802(b) of the Social Security Act) to nullify the two-year
penalty on physicians who accept private payment for Medicare-covered
- Ensure that all citizens are free to maintain private contracts
and thus establish truly confidential doctor-patient relationships.
The briefing paper can be accessed at http://www.forhealthfreedom.org/Publications/MedicareMedicaid/MandatoryEnrollment.html.
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HHS Response Ignores Question about
"Legal Authority", Raises New Questions about Restrictions on
Seniors' Freedom "Inside" the Medicare Program
Last summer three congressmen sent then-secretary of Health
and Human Services Tommy Thompson a letter asking him these
two important questions:
The response, dated
November 2004, did not provide the federal government's legal
authority for forcing seniors to enroll in Medicare Part A or
forgo their Social Security benefits. Instead, HHS basically
said the law doesn't specifically provide the ability for citizens
to waive entitlement to Medicare Part A (without losing their
Social Security benefits). Thus, the government interprets this
to mean they can force citizens to enroll in Medicare Part A
or forgo their Social Security benefits.
- If a federal law says a person "shall be entitled" to
a certain benefit or shall "automatically qualify" to receive
a certain benefit, can the person waive the benefit?
- What section of federal law gives the Social Security Administration
the authority to condition receipt of Social Security benefits,
to which a senior citizen is otherwise entitled to, on that
senior's enrollment in Medicare Part A?
Moreover, the response confirmed that under existing federal
policy "[Citizens] have no method for refusing Part A entitlement,
or for terminating such entitlement, as long as the beneficiary
continues to receive monthly Social Security benefits."
Additionally, the response, signed by Dr. Mark McClellan, director
of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), states:
"I am not aware of any law that limits a [Medicare] beneficiary's
ability to obtain care outside of the Medicare
program or that prohibits an individual from using private funds
to obtain health services" (emphasis added).
This statement raises an important question: What about seniors
who want to pay privately for care inside Medicare
(that is, Medicare-covered services)? If seniors are forced
to enroll in Medicare Part A and are thus considered Medicare
beneficiaries, they and their doctors are burdened by more than
100,000 pages of rules and regulations. For example, the New
York Times reports that Medicare threatens to expel doctors
from the program if they accept extra payment for "deluxe" versions
of services covered by the program.
What's more, Medicare beneficiaries are forbidden from opening
Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) under the Medicare reform law
passed in 2003.
Clearly, forcing seniors into Medicare Part A limits their freedom.
That's why they should not be penalized for refusing enrollment.
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Health Freedom Watch is published by the Insitute for Health Freedom. Editor: Sue Blevins; Assistant Editor: Deborah Grady. Copyright 2005 Institute for Health Freedom.