• Legislative Update September 2020

    This week, lawmakers adjourned for a week-long holiday recess. They are expected to return to Capitol Hill on Monday, November 28th. .65 million Americans currently rely on Social Security benefits, yet many still struggle just to make ends meet, to the shame of the nation, millions have worked all their lives, paid into a system, and receive a below poverty line check from Social Security. .The Health and Human Services Department finalized the policy through an interim final rule in November, meaning the agency skipped the comment period. Lowering drug costs for patients is the end goal of the policy, which the government argues justified the speedy implementation. … Continued

  • Supreme Court Decision Could Have Big Consequences For Social Security And Medicare

    TSCL Wants to Know: Did You Wind Up Owing Uncle Sam? .Since 2000, cost-of-living-adjustments (COLAs) increased Social Security benefits a total of just 43 percent. Meanwhile typical senior expenses have jumped 86 percent, according to TSCL's 2017 Loss of Buying Power Study. The following table illustrates ten of the fastest growing costs since 2000. .Mary Katherine was 90 when a stroke left her paralyzed on one side of her body and unable to speak. It was 1996 and at the time Medicare had a cap on physical and speech therapy services, which only allowed for a limited number of therapy sessions to help Mary Katherine regain the ability to walk, feed herself, and speak. The paltry coverage of therapy sessions from Medicare did not provide Mary Katherine with enough time or therapy to make much of an improvement in her physical health. Mary Katherine, who received a Social Security benefit of less than 0, couldn't afford more therapy and never recovered her speech. She remained paralyzed for the rest of her life, which she spent as a Medicaid patient in a nursing home. … Continued

No change to the taxation of Social Security benefits: Up to 85% of Social Security benefits can be subject to taxation. When that provision was first enacted into law in 1983, it was expected to affect only 10% of households with Social Security income. But unlike tax brackets, the income thresholds subjecting Social Security benefits to taxation have never been adjusted. Today, just as in 1983, individuals with incomes greater than ,000 (or ,000 for married couples filing jointly), pay taxes on their Social Security benefits. According to TSCL surveys, roughly half of all households receiving Social Security pay tax on a portion of their benefits. Not only are the numbers who pay the tax growing, but people are paying taxes on larger portions of their Social Security income as well. .In particular, the expert witnesses at last week's hearing focused on isolation from the community, Medicare penalties for late enrollment, and a lack of funding for State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIPs), which help older Americans navigate Medicare enrollment. .Trump's administration "has decided to pursue a radical and dangerous policy to set prices based on rates paid in countries that he has labeled as socialist, which will harm patients today and into the future," Stephen Ubl, the head of PhRMA, said in a statement. .Because the House of Representatives has 435 members its rules are much less complicated than the Senate's, which has 100 members. If the House had the same rules as the Senate, nothing would ever be accomplished. .You might be able to avoid doing so. Coronavirus stimulus legislation (CARES Act) that was signed into law in March waives required minimum distributions (RMDs) in 2020 for anyone who owns a 401(k), 403(b), or IRA. Instead of taking money from your retirement accounts this year, retirees can wait, or take less, to give investments time to recover. That's helpful, because most RMDs are based on the value of your retirement accounts on December 31st of the previous year. .Action on Capitol Hill this past week was limited as Congress re-convenes this week. Meanwhile, a Congressional Management Foundation (CMF) report indicates the effects of House member office budget cuts, and the Congressional Budget Office released a report that would save Medicare 500 billion dollars. .TSCL supports both prescription drug bills introduced by Senators Franken and Sanders earlier this year, and we will continue to advocate for them tirelessly in the coming months. We will also continue to monitor these discussions on Capitol Hill closely, as the Senate HELP Committee is expected to hold two additional hearings on the prescription drug topic in the near future. For updates, visit the Legislative News section of our website, or follow TSCL on Twitter. .This week, congressional leaders and President Donald Trump put an end to the partial federal government shutdown by approving a short-term CR that will reopen the government until Friday, February 15th. .Senate Committee Discusses Drug Costs