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Sam Johnson: U.S. Congressman, Third District of Texas

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Press Release

Sam Johnson introduces Medicare “Freedom to Choose” bill

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Washington, October 1, 2008 | McCall Avery (202-225-4201) | comments
This week U.S. Congressman Sam Johnson (3rd Dist.-Texas) introduced legislation to give seniors the freedom to take control over their health care decisions.
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This week U.S. Congressman Sam Johnson (3rd Dist.-Texas) introduced legislation to give seniors the freedom to take control over their health care decisions.  

“If Warren Buffett wants to pay for his own medical care, I say we should let him,” said Johnson, who serves on the Health Subcommittee.

Presently Medicare’s bureaucracy prevents seniors from paying their own doctor out of pocket, mandates that seniors enroll to receive government benefits (even the wealthy ones who do not wish to participate), and prevents seniors from contributing to their tax-free health savings account (HSA) once they hit 65.  That’s why Johnson introduced the Medicare Beneficiary Freedom to Choose Act, H.R. 7148.

First, the Act would put seniors in control of their health care decisions by allowing them to select their own doctor in Medicare.  Under current law, if a doctor enters into a private contract with a Medicare patient, then the doctor must leave the entire Medicare program for two years.   Johnson’s bill would remove the Medicare red-tape that prohibits seniors from working with a health care provider of their choice.

Second, the bill would allow seniors to opt out of Medicare Part A when they become eligible, usually age 65, if they don’t want to receive the benefit.  Part A covers hospital and skilled nursing home care, among other things.  Presently, seniors may choose not to enroll in Medicare Part B or Part D, but not Part A.

Third, the bill allows seniors to contribute pre-tax dollars to a health savings account, HSA, when used in conjunction with a high-deductible health plan.  Under current law, once a person turns 65 he or she is automatically enrolled in Part A.  This coverage makes them ineligible to contribute to an HSA.  Johnson’s bill would restore this tax benefit for those seniors who decide to opt out of Part A.

“In just a few years the Baby Boomer generation will start retiring and collecting Medicare.  We need to rejuvenate and improve Medicare before they enter the system, especially if it can cut down on government costs,” concluded Johnson.

Johnson represents portions of Dallas and Collin Counties.

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