[Editor’s Note: You can read Part 1 here]
In addition to allowing seniors to form private contracts with medical providers and not forcing seniors into the Medicare program as a condition of receiving Social Security, President Trump’s executive order on Medicare also orders the Department of Health and Human Services to reduce regulations and barriers preventing seniors from taking full advantage of Medicare Medical Savings Accounts (MSAs).
President Trump’s executive order is not the only effort to expand Medicare MSAs. Democrat Congressman Ani Berra (CA-07) and Republican Jason Smith (MO-08) have introduced the Health Savings for Seniors Act (H.R. 3796). This legislation allows seniors to continue making contributions to their Health Savings Accounts, which is what Medical Savings Accounts are commonly called today. Passage of this bill combined with President Trump’s executive order would go a long way toward giving seniors control of their health care.
Campaign for Liberty Chairman Ron Paul has long been an advocate of Medicare MSAs. Here is his official statement on his legislation expanding access to Medicare MSAs:
Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, I rise to introduce legislation which enhances senior citizens’ ability to control their health care and use Medicare money to pay for prescription drugs. This legislation accomplishes these important goals by removing the numerical limitations and sunset provisions in the Medicare Medical Savings Account (MSAS) program so that all seniors can take advantage of the Medicare MSA option.
Medicare MSAs consist of a special savings account containing Medicare funds for seniors to use for their routine medical expenses, including prescription drug costs. Seniors in a Medicare MSA program are also provided with a catastrophic insurance policy to cover non-routine expenses such as major surgery. Under an MSA plan, the choice of whether to use Medicare funds for prescription drug costs, or other services not available under traditional Medicare such as mammograms, are made by the senior, not by bureaucrats and politicians.
One of the major weaknesses of the Medicare program is that seniors do not have the ability to use Medicare dollars to cover the costs of prescription medicines, even though prescription drugs represent the major health care expenditure for many seniors. Medicare MSAs give those seniors who need to use Medicare funds for prescription drugs the ability to do so without expanding the power of the federal bureaucracy or forcing those seniors who currently have prescription drug coverage into a federal one-size-fits-all program.
Medicare MSAs will also ensure seniors access to a wide variety of health care services by minimizing the role of the federal bureaucracy. As many of my colleagues know, an increasing number of health care providers have withdrawn from the Medicare program because of the paperwork burden and constant interference with their practice by bureaucrats from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (previously known as the Health Care Financing Administration). The MSA program frees seniors and providers from this burden thus making it more likely that quality providers will remain in the Medicare program!
Mr. Speaker, the most important reason to enact this legislation is seniors should not be treated like children and told what health care services they can and cannot have by the federal government. We in Congress have a duty to preserve and protect the Medicare trust fund and keep the promise to America’s seniors and working Americans, whose taxes finance Medicare, that they will have quality health care in their golden years. However, we also have a duty to make sure that seniors can get the health care that suits their needs, instead of being forced into a cookie cutter program designed by Washington-DC-based bureaucrats! Medicare MSAs are a good first step toward allowing seniors the freedom to control their own health care.
In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to provide our senior citizens greater control of their health care, including the ability to use Medicare money to purchase prescription drugs by cosponsoring my legislation to expand the Medicare MSA program.
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