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Palmer reintroduces bill to give seniors the option of opting out of Medicare

Currently, seniors must forfeit Social Security if they choose to keep their private insurance and not enroll in Medicare.

Congressman Gary Palmer at a congressional hearing. (CONGRESSMAN GARY PALMER'S OFFICE)

Alabama Republican Congressman Gary Palmer announced that he has reintroduced the Retirement Freedom Act, which would allow senior citizens to opt out of Medicare without losing their Social Security benefits.

Companion legislation was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.

“I want our senior citizens to be empowered to make their own healthcare decisions, and that is what the Retirement Freedom Act does,” Palmer said. “People should not be forced to give up their private insurance because their Social Security is being held hostage. Our senior citizens deserve more control over their own medical decisions, and this bill would help give that.”

Currently, seniors must forfeit Social Security if they choose to keep their private insurance and not enroll in Medicare Part A. Palmer said that this link between the two programs acts as a mechanism to force Medicare enrollment, which is an overreach by the Social Security Administration and a serious restriction on seniors’ freedom of choice in their health care.

The Retirement Freedom Act would give that freedom back to seniors, Palmer said, adding that it would be one step towards fixing the entitlement system. Cruz has introduced a number of health care bills this week, which he says are designed to give patients and their doctors more healthcare options.

“I am fighting to put patients and their doctors back in control of their healthcare, and remove barriers that reduce access to care, cures, tests, and treatments through these bills,” Cruz said. “These are commonsense reforms that will provide patients, providers, and innovators the freedom to make the healthcare choices that best meet patient needs, moving America away from a bureaucratic healthcare takeover and toward a patient-centered system.”

In 2016, the American people gave Republicans control of the Senate, the House of Representatives and the presidency. Even though Republicans campaigned on repealing and replacing the controversial Affordable Care Act, they could never come to an agreement among themselves on repealing the law, much less a system to replace it with.

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The health care issue helped Democrats win control of the House in 2018. The Democrats followed that up by winning narrow control of the Senate and Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump.

Palmer represents Alabama’s 6th Congressional District. He is serving in his fourth term in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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