Legislative Update Week Ending August 19 2016
More than ever before, it is critical that seniors make their voices heard on Capitol Hill. In the past two years, countless proposals to cut Medicare and Social Security benefits have been backed by deficit hawks in Congress. Recent plans have called for lower cost-of-living adjustments, increased Medicare means testing, a higher retirement age, and even the phasing out of Medicare altogether. The stakes are high for seniors, and with a critical election just months away, every voice counts. The stacks of petitions that our members signed were delivered along with a personalized letter addressed to each Member of Congress. The letters expressed appreciation to those who have already signed on as supporters of the key issues. To those who have not, however, they conveyed a powerful and urgent message and served as a call to action. .In recent years, inflation and COLAs have been virtually flat, averaging just 1.1% per year since 2010 — with no COLA at all in 2016 and just a 0.3% COLA in 201Slow growth in Social Security benefits, particularly when it continues over a period as long as 8 years, has a very significant impact on the overall amount of lifetime income that retirees can expect from Social Security. When retiree costs climb while benefits remain flat, people wind up having to dig more deeply into retirement savings (if they have any), spending more quickly than anticipated. Many people without other pensions or savings are forced into debt. About one in four low-income older Americans is dependent on programs that provide assistance with essentials like food and healthcare costs. .Rick retired from the U.S. Air Force as a First Sergeant with the rank of Master Sergeant in October of 1989 and makes his home in Warner Robins, Georgia, with his wife of 43 years, Pat. … Continued
Social Security Medicare Questions May 2014
An alternate measure of inflation, the Supplemental Poverty Measure, indicates that the number of older adults who are living in poverty is larger than what the "official" poverty measure reports, according to a recent analysis from the non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation. The way in which the government measures poverty is important because eligibility for critical low–income programs such as Medicaid, food stamps, and rental subsidies is determined by income, and tied to the "official" U.S. poverty measure. A greater number of needy people would qualify for safety-net programs like Medicaid, if the government were to use the more accurate Supplemental Poverty Measure to determine eligibility. .Recently a group of Medicare patients and their families sued the Obama Administration, saying they were deprived of coverage because the policy allows hospitals to avoid admitting seniors with chronic ailments as inpatients. The plaintiffs charged that the observation services policy, which is intended to apply to short stays of no more than 24 to 48 hours, is instead being used to keep Medicare patients on outpatient status for longer stays, including some lasting up to a week. As a result, the seniors incurred medical charges as high as ,000 for skilled nursing care, drugs and other costs that Medicare Part B does not cover. Inpatient stays are covered under Medicare Part A, and all of ,156 deductible and most, if not all, of the co-insurance is covered by Medigap supplements. ."UnitedHealth Culls Doctors from Medicare Advantage Plans," Melinda Beck, Wall Street Journal, November 16, 2013. … Continued
If these aren't challenges enough, The Senior Citizens League (TSCL) recently estimated that the Social Security benefits of the first wave of baby boomers have taken a hit from the economic downturn. Due to two years of no cost-of-living-adjustments (COLAs), and lower than expected COLAs, as well as an unprecedented drop in wages over the past decade, retiring seniors' benefits based on average earnings could be impacted as much as ,000. This impact is compounded when the losses in personal retirement savings and 401(k) plans are accounted for. .Two years ago, President Obama bypassed Congress to halt the deportations of almost 5 million unauthorized immigrants. The Supreme Court recently tied on a ruling that allowed a lower court's ruling to stand, barring Obama's executive action. Do you believe President Obama overstepped his constitutional limits? .Your responses to our annual Senior Surveys are a key means to helping us convince Congress to move forward on key issues. Please take our 2021 Senior Survey. .The decision on when to start benefits is complicated and you should get counseling. The Social Security Administration website has a great deal of information on survivor's benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov as well as contact numbers to reach counselors. For more information about working after starting benefits see How Work Affects Your Benefits Publication Number 05-10069. .TSCL enthusiastically supports H.R. 1029, H.R. 3118, and H.R. 1795, and we were pleased to see support grow for each of them this week. .Providing Medicare services is not simple, but it is critical that we continue to make efficient investments in the healthcare expenses of 48 million people and develop an adequate workforce to provide those services. I proudly voted for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), which expanded access for Medicare beneficiaries and increased investment in healthcare provider training. I also remain a staunch opponent of attempts to increase costs to beneficiaries and privatize this valuable program. .This week, the Senate Finance Committee met with a representative from the Obama administration to discuss alternatives to the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula. In addition, The Senior Citizens League (TSCL) saw five key bills gain new cosponsors. .Noting the vast and unprecedented danger that the coronavirus presents to the elderly and people with disabilities, patient advocates described the lack of inspections as a shocking oversight. .Congress has until the end of this Friday to pass legislation to fund the federal government for the remainder of fiscal year 202Very few people think they'll get it done.