For Release: August 1998
Contact: Amy Ridenour 202/543-4110 or [email protected]
Amy Ridenour, president of The National Center for Public Policy Research, a non-partisan Capitol Hill think-tank, today criticized the federal government for standing fast in its wrong-headed decision to prohibit Americans 65 and older from choosing their own doctors.
"The federal government explicably believes that Americans over 65 don't have the right to contract privately for medical services," Ridenour said. "That's nonsense. Americans have the same rights at 65 or 85 that they have at 25 or 45."
Ridenour is referring to Section 4507 of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, which prohibits any doctor who contracts privately with an Americans 65 or older from seeing any Medicare patients for two years. Since most doctors aren't willing to give up seeing all Medicare patients, this effectively traps seniors into receiving only that medical care which is approved by Medicare. The Clinton Administration has resisted attempts by House Ways and Means Chairman Rep. Bill Archer (R-TX) and Senator John Kyl (R-AZ) to repeal this provision, and it has aggressively defended the regulation in court.
The new regulation has unecessary paperwork burdens as well, said Ridenour. To see patients 65 and older on a private contractural basis, doctors must first file forms with the government affirmatively announcing that they will not treat any medicare patients for the next two years. It's not enough not to see Medicare patients -- a doctor must file paperwork as well. This has the result of making it even more unlikely that a doctor will be willing to see senior citizens on a private basis. In fact, during the first three months of the new regulation, only 300 doctors nationwide submitted the required paperwork to the federal government."
"Even countries with socialized medicine do not prohinit citizens from going outside the system if they so desire," added Ridenour.
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