This is interesting. Plaintiffs wanted to disclaim Medicare Part A benefits because their private insurance would not cover anyone entitled to Medicare Part A. Can you? Nope. You can decline benefits, but there is no way to disclaim the legal entitlement.
From Judge Kavanaugh in Hall v. Sebelius:
KAVANAUGH, Circuit Judge: This is not your typical lawsuit against the Government. Plaintiffs here have sued because they don’t want government benefits. They seek to disclaim their legal entitlement to Medicare Part A benefits for hospitalization costs. Plaintiffs want to disclaim their legal entitlement to Medicare Part A benefits because their private insurers limit coverage for patients who are entitled to Medicare Part A benefits. And plaintiffs would prefer to receive coverage from their private insurers rather than from the Government.
Plaintiffs’ lawsuit faces an insurmountable problem: Citizens who receive Social Security benefits and are 65 or older are automatically entitled under federal law to Medicare Part A benefits. To be sure, no one has to take the Medicare Part A benefits. But the benefits are available if you want them. There is no statutory avenue for those who are 65 or older and receiving Social Security benefits to disclaim their legal entitlement to Medicare Part A benefits. For that reason, the District Court granted summary judgment for the Government. We understand plaintiffs’ frustration with their insurance situation and appreciate their desire for better private insurance coverage. But based on the law, we affirm the judgment of the District Court.
But plaintiffs want something more than just the ability to decline Medicare payments. They seek a legal declaration that Medicare Part A benefits cannot be paid on their behalf – a declaration, in other words, that they are not legally entitled to Medicare Part A benefits. But the statute simply does not provide any mechanism to achieve that objective. If you are 65 or older and sign up for Social Security, you are automatically entitled to Medicare Part A benefits. You can decline those benefits. But you still remain entitled to them under the statute.
What plaintiffs really seem to want is for the Government and, more importantly, their private insurers to treat plaintiffs’ decision not to accept Medicare Part A benefits as meaning plaintiffs are also not legally entitled to Medicare Part A benefits. But the problem is that, under the law, plaintiffs remain legally entitled to the benefits regardless of whether they accept them.
Consider an analogy. A poor citizen might be entitled under federal law to food stamps. The citizen does not have to take the food stamps. But even so, she nonetheless remains legally entitled to them. So it is here.
Though it seems if they disenroll from Social Security they can opt out (it seems plaintiffs don’t want to do this):
Third, plaintiffs acknowledge that they can escape their entitlement to Medicare Part A benefits by disenrolling from Social Security and forgoing Social Security benefits. From that, plaintiffs contend that entitlement to Medicare Part A benefits has thereby been made a prerequisite to receiving Social Security benefits, in contravention of the statute governing entitlement to Social Security benefits. But plaintiffs have it backwards. Signing up for Social Security is a prerequisite to Medicare Part A benefits, not the other way around.