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Brian Hall, et al. v. Kathleen Sebelius

March 16, 2011

BRIAN HALL, ET AL. PLAINTIFFS,
v.
KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, SECRETARY, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Rosemary M. Collyer United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Plaintiffs are retired Federal employees who have reached age 65 and have applied for, and are receiving, Social Security Retirement benefits. As a result, they are "entitled" to Medicare Part A, coverage. They do not, however, want Medicare coverage. And the only avenue provided to Plaintiffs to un-entitle themselves is to cease receiving Social Security Retirement benefits -- and to repay all such benefits already received. Plaintiffs declaim that such a requirement is contrary to the Social Security Act, of which Medicare is a part. The Court concludes that Plaintiffs' claims are without merit.

Medicare costs are skyrocketing and may bankrupt us all; nonetheless, participation in Medicare Part A (for hospital insurance) is statutorily mandated for retirees who are 65 years old or older and are receiving Social Security Retirement (so-called 'old age') benefits. Whether Congress intended this result in 1965 or whether it is good fiscal and public policy in 2011 cannot gainsay the language of the statute and the regulations. Accordingly, summary judgment will be entered for Defendants.

I. FACTS

Plaintiffs Brian Hall, John Kraus, and Richard Armey share the following characteristics:

* They are retired from Federal employment and have attained the age of 65.

* They applied for, and are receiving, Social Security Retirement benefits.

* They are entitled to benefits under Medicare Part A.

* They had previously been enrolled in health plans under the Federal Employees Health Benefit (FEHB) program and wish to continue that coverage in full.

* They do not want to be covered by Medicare Part A and want to disenroll from Medicare Part A.

* They want to continue receiving their monthly Social Security Retirement benefits. These facts are all undisputed and, for purposes of resolving this dispute, are the only facts that pertain.

II. LEGAL STANDARDS

A. Summary Judgment

Under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary judgment must be granted when "the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56 (c); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247 (1986); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Diamond v. Atwood, 43 F.3d 1538, 1540 (D.C. Cir. 1995). Moreover, summary judgment is properly granted against a party that "after adequate time for discovery and upon motion . . . fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 322. To determine which facts are "material," a court must look to the substantive law on which each claim rests. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248 (1986). A "genuine issue" is one whose resolution could establish an element of a claim or defense and, therefore, affect the outcome of the action. Id.; Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322.

In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court must draw all justifiable inferences in the nonmoving party's favor and accept the nonmoving party's evidence as true. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. A nonmoving party, however, must establish more than "the mere existence of a scintilla of evidence" in support of its position. Id. at 252. To prevail on a motion for summary judgment, the moving party must show that the nonmoving party "fail[ed] to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322. By pointing to the absence of evidence proffered by the nonmoving party, a moving party may succeed on summary judgment. Id. In addition, the nonmoving party may not rely solely on allegations or conclusory statements. Greene v. Dalton, 164 F.3d 671, 675 (D.C. Cir. 1999). Rather, the nonmoving party must present specific ...


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