(Feb. 10) Three members of Congress, including Alabama’s Gary Palmer, this week introduced legislation to preserve individual choice and Social Security benefits for seniors who are willing to pay for their own medical care. The legislation deserves overwhelming, bipartisan approval.

Republican Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky, and Rep. Gary Palmer of Alabama have authored the Retirement Freedom Act, which would prevent the federal bureaucracy from reverting to an illogical, counterproductive administrative rule relating to Social Security and Medicare.

For years, without the benefit of the correct rulemaking procedures, the Department of Health and Human Services told seniors they could not save other taxpayers’ money by declining to accept Medicare benefits unless they also forfeit the Social Security benefits they had earned through decades of paycheck-withholding.

Yes, read that again: Some seniors who had paid into both Medicare and Social Security for their whole lives are willing to forgo their Medicare benefits — to pay for their own healthcare, in the belief they can get better-quality care outside of Medicare’s regulations. By doing so, they would save the government money, thereby contributing, in a small way, to reducing the national debt. Yet, for inexplicably bizarre reasons, HHS had decided this was a bad thing — so bad, in fact, that they would punish those seniors by also denying them Social Security benefits they had earned, which, of course, they rightly wanted to keep.

This rule wasn’t just nonsensical but insane. Still, the bureaucrats insisted on keeping it in place.

To an extent, then-President Donald Trump fixed this problem in the fall of 2019…. The concern, though, is that an executive order can be overturned at the stroke of a pen via another executive order. It may even be possible for bureaucrats to find an end-run around the executive order if the Biden administration decides to look the other way. That’s why it is important to pass the Retirement Freedom Act, to enshrine in federal statutory law, which trumps administrative law, the correct, rational policy…. [The full column is here.]


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