Legislative Update Week Ending December 16 2016
Sen. Barbara Mikulski (MD), chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, stated earlier this week, "What I hope to be able to do is keep the government open, to avoid a government shutdown, to do no harm, and to be as boring as possible." The House planned to vote on a package that would simply extend current funding levels through mid-December on Thursday, and the Senate was set on taking it up next week. .How did the coronavirus affect you? Your answer helps Congress understand the needs of older Americans. Please participate in TSCL's 2020 Senior Cost Survey at /2020-senior-cost-survey. .Senate Group Proposes Medicare Phase-Out … Continued
Congressional Corner November 2017
We have heard such offers before. Pharmaceutical companies routinely provide coupons to cover patient copayments for expensive drugs so that we do not squawk when they charge our insurance company tens of thousands for the medicine, driving up premiums year after year. A naloxone injector to reverse heroin overdoses is given free to some clinics but priced at thousands for the rest. ."Opting out" of a former employer's coverage on occasion might be able to save you money, but it requires careful cost comparisons and sound guidance. Never make any change without first getting the unbiased advice from a trained Medicare benefits counselor. The service is provided free of charge through your State Health Insurance Program and is available at many local Agencies on Aging. Check your local yellow pages. .Some of our members have told us that they've also joined AARP for the benefits. We're all for seniors saving money, so if you want to join AARP for the discounts, go for it. But we hope you will choose The Senior Citizens League as the group fighting for you on Capitol Hill. … Continued
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the Joint Committee on Taxation have boosted previous estimates and now say that switching to the chained consumer price index (C-CPI) will cut Social Security and other federal retirement benefits by 8 billion and increase taxes by 2 billion over the next 10 years. The loss to beneficiaries would compound over time and grows deeper each year as illustrated in the following chart. As seniors grow older and more likely to develop costly health conditions, their Social Security benefits would become less adequate to cover rising costs more quickly. .Social Security's Disability Insurance program is littered with waste. Last year, for example, .8 billion in overpayments were made to those collecting disability benefits. In addition, the administration has allowed an enormous backlog to accumulate for Continuing Disability Reviews, which are conducted to determine whether a beneficiary has recovered enough to return to work. Currently, every dollar spent reviewing cases yields more than ten dollars in savings; if the backlog were eliminated, more than billion in savings would be returned to the Trust Fund. The potential savings from eliminating waste within Social Security are enormous and could cover the cost of the Notch Fairness Act. Second, Congress could increase the amount of income subject to the Social Security payroll tax – an option that sixty-seven percent of TSCL members strongly supported in this year's Senior Survey. Currently, yearly income earned above 0,100 is not subject to the payroll tax. .Federal prosecutors recently announced the biggest-ever one-day takedown of a phony Medicare billing scheme. One hundred seven people were charged, including doctors and nurses in seven U.S. cities, with taking part in a scheme to steal 2 million from Medicare. About the same time, the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services reported that federal investigators have uncovered questionable billings at 2,600 drugstores nationwide. A pharmacy in Kansas billed Medicare for more than 1,000 prescriptions each for just two patients. Medicare paid .6 billion to the drugstores whose billings are now being questioned. While those announcements generated great election year headlines, the fact is that seniors and taxpayers can only hope to see a tiny fraction of Medicare's money recovered. .Last week White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows announced that President Trump would soon be signing three executive orders regarding prescription drug prices. While he did not provide any further information the Washington Post published an article about what one of the orders is likely to be. .The inspector general has recommended that the IRS should require ITIN filers claiming the Additional Child Tax Credits to provide documentation that their dependents meet the qualifications for the credit, including residency. The IRS disputes this, saying that it doesn't have the legal authority to verify and disallow the child tax credits. .That's why I'm excited and proud to announce TSCL's endorsement of The Guaranteed 3% COLA for Seniors Act (H.R. 3389) introduced in the House by Representative Eliot Engel (NY-16) and its companion bill in the Senate (S. 1923) introduced by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (RI). TSCL believes this bill will go a long way toward stopping the erosion in the buying power of your Social Security benefits. Now it's your turn. You can help draw attention to this legislation by contacting your Members of Congress and asking them to co-sponsor The Guaranteed 3% COLA for Seniors Act. For contact info or to send an email to your elected lawmakers visit the TSCL at . .Republicans Sweep Tuesday's Elections .We will get through this. .Several lawmakers at Tuesday's hearings voiced concerns about Congressman Mulvaney's Social Security and Medicare reform positions. Senator Bernie Sanders (VT) – Ranking Member of the Senate Budget Committee – said: "The opinions and views of Mr. Mulvaney are way out of touch with what the American people want. And more importantly, they are way, way out of touch with what President Trump campaigned on." Congressman Mulvaney stated, "I haven't exactly been a shy Member of Congress in my six years here, and I don't expect to end that here today or if I am confirmed as Director of OMB." He said he would be "completely and brutally honest" as a budget advisor to President Trump.