Senior citizens’ ability to use their own money, if they choose, to avoid involuntary denial of medical treatment under Medicare could be severely limited by a provision in the Reid health care bill.
Section 3209 of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) proposed health care bill, which the Senate is now debating and amending, would change current law, which now prevents the federal government from limiting the right of senior citizens voluntarily to add their own money of top of the government Medicare contribution so as to be able to obtain health insurance plans under the "Medicare Advantage" program that are less likely to deny treatment.
Instead, the Reid bill provision would authorize the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in her unlimited discretion, to refuse to allow such plans to be offered to senior citizens.
The provision duplicates the little-noticed section 1175 of the bill passed by the House of Representatives. Neither provision was in bills reported by the committees of either chamber; at the last minute, both were slipped into the versions sent to the floor for action.
The fundamental question is whether seniors will be prevented from using their own money, if they wish, to gain access to insurance that will not ration medical treatment. The significant cuts that the Senate and House health care bills make in Medicare increase the importance of protecting the right of older Americans, if they choose, to use their own money to save their own lives. It is critical to change Section 3209 of the Reid bill to keep this alternative available.
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Additional information on this issue, and on other provisions in the Senate bill that threaten to ration lifesaving medical treatment.