The Senior Citizens League Weekly Update For Week Ending March 13 2020
Industry groups and health systems led by the American Hospital Association challenged the rule, arguing that the rule would do more harm than good because it won't "tell consumers their actual out-of-pocket costs, will likely produce confusion and may be less effective than the price-transparency tools the hospital field has been developing." .For updates on the progress of the Prescription Drug Affordability Act or for more information about the Medicare Part D doughnut hole, visit our website at or find us on Facebook and Twitter. .A Word of Warning … Continued
Tax Plan Moves to Conference Committee .On Wednesday, after a nine-hour markup, lawmakers on the House Budget Committee approved a .9 trillion resolution to fund the federal government through fiscal 201The proposal includes .5 trillion in spending cuts, including 9 billion to the Medicare program. To accomplish this, it would transform Medicare into a premium-support program over a seven-year period, where beneficiaries would be given vouchers to purchase private insurance from a list of authorized plans. .The first new rule affects Medicare Part B drug costs, which are typically infused or injected drugs used mainly in the treatment of cancer. The intent is to cap the cost of those drugs at the lowest price that drug manufacturers receive in other countries and to pay doctors a flat fee for each dose of a drug, instead of a percentage of each drug's cost. … Continued
The bill would reduce the number of tax brackets from seven to just four — 12 percent, 25 percent, 35 percent — and would keep the highest bracket at 39.6 percent. It also increases the standard deduction from ,350 (individuals)/,700 (married couples) to ,000 (individuals)/,000 (married couples). While the standard deduction would increase, taxpayers on the other hand would lose personal exemptions — the ones for themselves, a spouse and/or dependents, which currently are ,050 per person. Exemptions would be replaced with a 0 credit through 2022, and eliminated thereafter. .On Wednesday, the Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee met to discuss fraud, waste, and abuse within the Disability Insurance (DI) program. Subcommittee members heard from two expert witnesses – Sean Brune of the Social Security Administration (SSA) and Seto Bagdoyan of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) – on recent progress the administration has made in detecting and preventing fraud. .Instead, locality pay increases are intended to keep the salaries of current federal workers competitive with private sector jobs in the same locality pay area. The Bureau of Labor Statistics measures non-federal compensation in a particular market and compares it to federal pay for federal employees who perform similar work in the same region. The gap between the two helps determine the locality pay adjustment for a specific area in a given year. .Finally, the Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act (H.R. 711) also gained one new cosponsor this week. Rep. Jared Nadler (NY-10) signed on to it, bringing the cosponsor total up to 10That bill, if signed into law, would repeal the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) while establishing a new formula for the non-covered earnings of future retirees. It would also create a separate formula for retirees who are currently affected by the WEP. TSCL believes H.R. 711 is a sensible step forward, and we hope it continues to gain strong support in the months ahead. .During the Great Recession and immediately afterwards, mature workers got a raw deal; it's time for Congress to give them a Better Deal. .Susan's mother started taking the prescription drug Eliquis last year, that will cost her mother about ,244 out-of-pocket in 2019 for that drug alone (she takes five other generics). Last year, the cost of Eliquis pushed her mom into the Part D doughnut hole where out-of-pocket costs were higher. Rising costs of the drug in 2019 will mean her mom will hit the doughnut hole a month sooner this year. .That does raise a fair question about conflict of interest: If something was not in the best interest of seniors but would raise millions of dollars for AARP through insurance sales, would AARP put principle ahead of profit? .Sources: Earnings Suspense File Data For 2008 and 2009, Social Security Administration, March 2, 201"The Growing Cost Of Illegal Immigration To Social Security," Mary Johnson, TSCL, June 2010. .Things could get worse for older households. Some economists and policy makers worry that the new economic stimulus will cause consumer prices to spiral. Consumer price index data through February showed a big jump in some prices and suggests that the next Social Security COLA may in fact be much higher — the highest since 2019 when the COLA was 2.8%. "But right now, those higher prices erode the buying power of Social Security benefits," says Johnson who studies the impact that rising prices have on the purchasing power of Social Security recipients. According to research by Johnson, from January of 2000 to January of 2020, Social Security benefits have already lost 30 percent of buying power.