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High court rejects Medicare challenge

WASHINGTON— The Supreme Court has turned away a challenge from former House Majority Leader Dick Armey and other Social Security recipients who say they have the right to reject Medicare in favor of continuing health coverage from private insurers.

The justices did not comment Monday in letting stand a federal appeals court ruling that held that there is no way for people who receive Social Security to reject Medicare benefits.

Armey, a Texas Republican, and two other former federal employees say private insurance covers more than Medicare. Two other plaintiffs are wealthy individuals who have high deductible private insurance and prefer to pay for their health care.

The case was funded by a group called The Fund For Personal Liberty, which says its purpose is to take on burdensome government regulations.

Also on Monday, the court said it will hear two days’ worth of arguments over laws affecting gay marriage.

The court scheduled arguments in Hollingsworth v. Perry for March 26 and U.S. v. Windsor for March 27.

The first involves California’s constitutional amendment that forbids same-sex marriage. The second concerns the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which denies legally married gay couples the right to federal spousal benefits.

The court scheduled one hour’s worth of arguments on each day. Justices can still extend the amount of time given to arguments in each case, however.

Nine states — Maryland as well as Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, and Washington— and the District of Columbia allow gay marriage.