The Age of Administrative Excess

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court announced that it would not review the decision of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in Hall v. SebeliusThe case was, however, of great importance to me as a lawyer who, along with Kent Masterson Brown, had asked the Court to review the case because of what it tells us about the unfortunate state of this nation’s Medicare program. The issues here go not only to its fiscal woes, but also to the sad state of the administrative law that governs the operation of the system.

Hall is something of a quixotic lawsuit. Brought by a group of determined small government libertarians, the case raised the simple question of whether the plaintiffs could opt out of the Medicare system without having to forfeit all of their benefits, past and future, through the Social Security system. It should be instantly obvious that there will be no public groundswell to opt out of a system that gives program participants payments over their lifetime that far exceed their contributions to the plan. Indeed, the most recent report from the Medicare trustees detailed the program’s precarious long-term position given its use of general revenues to support its near open-ended entitlement system.

But the Department of Health and Human Services insists on locking unwilling citizens into Medicare. Why? I explain in my weekly column at the Hoover publication Defining Ideas

  1. Ross C

    You said you would explain why they [HHS] insist on locking unwilling citizens into Medicare (i.e. without forfeiting Social Security benefits).

    For those who will not follow the link (which BTW did not work for me) I will encapsulate the answer.

    There are no financial reasons to keep people in the program, so that the best explanation for the government position is not economic but political: its desire to conscript people into the program so that they will quickly figure out that the HHS is the boss when it comes to the control over their healthcare dollars. [emphasis mine]

    It is somewhat hard to grasp why a bureaucracy like the HHS or any other I could name is hell bent on control even at its cost.  Maybe that is the bigger question you need to try and explain.

  2. Owl of Minerva

    I’m about 99% sure that Epstein doesn’t check the comments after he posts here, but, in case Epstein is part of the 1%, I wish to thank him here for all the work he has done.

    EDIT: I always wish to inform him that his links don’t work.

  3. Mollie Hemingway

    Weird. The links worked for me but I think I figured out what was wrong for others … should be fixed now.

  4. Ross C
    Owl of Minerva: I’m about 99% sure that Epstein doesn’t check the comments after he posts here, but, in case Epstein is part of the 1%, I wish to thank him here for all the work he has done.

    Ditto.  Super column and I am happy to contribute my click to his web traffic.  May it always prevail.