Legislative Update February 2020
For updates on the progress of S. Con. Res. 3, visit the Legislative News section of our website, or follow TSCL on Facebook and Twitter. To view TSCL's full legislative agenda for the 115th Congress, click HERE. .New Medicare Enrollees in 201Because these people are new to Medicare they have not had an increase in the Part B premium. Thus, they must pay the full amount in 2017 when they sign up. .TSCL is highly concerned that the projected decline in Social Security revenues, along with the expected .5 trillion drop in general revenues caused by recent tax cuts, will create growing pressures to cut federal spending on benefits. The most frequently discussed changes include raising the eligibility age for benefits, imposing means testing, and slowing the growth of the annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) by tying the annual boost to the more slowly-growing chained consumer price index. … Continued
Social Security Expansion Gets New Attention In Us House
According to the new survey by The Senior Citizens League, the majority of Medicare beneficiaries (72 percent) report spending for prescription drugs that was less than the Part D initial coverage limit in 2020. But 28 percent of survey participants report a level of monthly drug spending (at least per month and more for co-pays and co-insurance) that puts them at risk of exceeding the Medicare Part D initial coverage limit and hitting the "coverage gap" or "doughnut hole" — the point at which drug costs can be higher than under initial coverage. In addition, one quarter of survey participants, 25 percent, said they postponed filling one or more prescriptions in 2020 due to high cost or shortages. Under current law there is no annual cap on out of pocket spending in Part D, except for the lowest income beneficiaries who qualify for Medicare Extra Help which covers most of their out of pocket costs. .The increased amounts are phased out for incomes over 0,000 for married couples filing jointly and qualifying widows or widowers, 2,500 for heads of household, and ,000 for all other taxpayers. .In his opening statement, Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth (KY-3) said: "[Social Security] is facing serious long-term funding shortfalls, with promised benefits facing cuts as high as 20 percent as soon as 2035 if Congress does not act. Cuts of this level would be devastating for the individuals who rely on Social Security … Congress has a responsibility to act and honor the promise of retirement security." … Continued
According to a 2013 Pew Research study, women tend to take time off work to have children or care for aging family members more often than men, and then wind up with zero or only low earnings during those years. This reduces the initial Social Security retirement benefit. If a woman works entirely as a stay-at-home mom or is a full-time caregiver and doesn't take a job with an employer or is not self-employed, this means she would only rely on survivor or spousal benefits based on her spouse's work record for financial support. .Sen. Sherrod Brown (OH) introduced S. 569 on March 14, 201It has since been referred to the Committee on Finance. .The other big variable in health care is insuring against the risk of a big tab for long-term care. This is an area where we just don't have very good options right now. The market for private long-term care insurance doesn't function very well -- the cost of coverage has been soaring, and the number of insurance companies in the market has been shrinking. Medicaid is the country's biggest payer for nursing home bills, but you need to spend down to poverty levels to qualify and most often your care choices are limited. The other options are "self-insuring" paying out of pocket if you're very affluent, or if like many older senior Americans, you rely on family members for help. .According to the non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation, the average Medicare Part D plan premium increase for 2016 is likely to be the largest since 200In addition, Medicare Part B premiums will increase more than 16 percent, from 4.90 to 1.80 per month, for about one in three beneficiaries next year, and that's after legislation that reduced the increase. .Over the past 25 years, Congress has periodically debated plans to fix Social Security's financing, that rely heavily on benefit cuts. But for the first time in 2019 and 2020, Congress is considering a plan to strengthen Social Security and its benefits while making the program solvent by beefing up the payroll tax revenues flowing into the program. .Despite receiving some pointed questions at Wednesday's hearing, most Senators on the panel seemed overwhelmingly supportive of Burwell's nomination. Sen. Tom Coburn (OK) introduced her to the Finance Committee and he recommended her confirmation, saying: "When you have someone who is competent and also has a strong character, you find a way to get past your differences and try to solve your problems." In addition, in his opening remarks, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (WV) said, "We need you, Sylvia Mathews Burwell, very, very much." .Protection of the Social Security Trust Fund – Ensuring that the program's assets are locked out of the general budget. .New regulatory threats, some at the urging of the pharmaceutical industry, could make it impossible for seniors to purchase certain products like vitamins and minerals without a prescription. It may sound outrageous, but seniors could soon be limited in their access to things as simple as protein shakes, vegetable juice and even herbal hand lotion without a prescription. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently began imposing new regulations on products used in "Complementary and Alternative Medicine" (CAM). TSCL is concerned the expensive federal regulations will restrict seniors' access to commonly available items and drive up costs for those that remain on the market. .Screen your calls: Even if you have caller ID, experts suggest screening calls any way. More robo-callers are making their calls appear to be local by using phone numbers from your own local calling area. Unless you know the number of the caller is legit, don't pick up. Legitimate callers, such as your doctor's office calling to remind of an appointment, will leave a message. Tell your family and friends to leave a message and to keep talking at least long enough for you to get to the phone if your phone's speaker allows you to hear the caller's message.