[Skip to Navigation]
November 8, 1993

Is There a Duty to Accept Medicare Payment?

Author Affiliations

Tucson, Ariz

Arch Intern Med. 1993;153(21):2505. doi:10.1001/archinte.1993.00410210133016

In concluding that the "duty to accept Medicare patients is strong," Gordon and Reiser1 make a basic assumption, ie, that all persons who have reached the age of 65 years (or met some other eligibility requirement) are, by necessity, Medicare patients each and every time they receive a medical service.

Medicare is an entitlement. One is privileged to take advantage of an entitlement, but not required to do so. The question is worded: "Do physicians have a duty to treat Medicare patients?" Instead, we should ask: "Are physicians obliged to accept government payment for all services rendered to eligible patients?"

The answer to the second question is: obviously not. Our services are ours to give. The government has not yet outlawed charity.

But what if the patient who receives our services is willing and able to pay for them? Has Congress passed a law stating that an American citizen