By Representative Mike Kelly (PA-3)
As a representative of thousands of senior citizens in Western Pennsylvania, and as a senior myself, I strongly believe that all Americans should be able to enjoy their golden years without financial or medical hardship. Retirement should be a time of great reward and good health, not unnecessary anxiety. As a member of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security, it has been a priority of mine to work on policies that protect Social Security and ensure its long-term viability for all Americans who have paid into the system. Over the past several years, I have proudly worked with fellow legislators on both sides of the aisle to craft specific policy solutions that will benefit seniors everywhere.
Last year, I co-founded the bipartisan House Retirement Security Caucus in order to raise awareness about the importance of properly planning for retirement (and the pitfalls of not doing so). As co-chairman of the caucus, I am committed to making sure the federal government does not make retirement planning more complicated than it should be. Just recently, in response to the Department of Labor’s proposed “fiduciary rule” that could restrict Americans’ access to financial advice, I voted for the SAVERS Act (H.R. 4294), which would protect such access while also helping to ensure that financial advisors act in the best interest of the retirees and families they serve.
Also last year, I introduced the Medicare Advantage Coverage Transparency Act which was ultimately passed with unanimous support and then signed into law by President Obama. Decision-making in Washington should be based on transparency. A truly representative legislature should foster a culture of openness, which is why this law now requires the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to offer Congress expanded information on Medicare Advantage enrollment each year based on zip code, congressional district, and state. The purpose of this additional data is to provide greater information to the public, to policymakers, and to the health care community so they may have the most up-to-date information when making decisions.
This year, I am currently gathering support for the Medicare Advantage Quality Payment Relief Act, which would require the HHS Secretary to take Medicare Advantage Quality Incentive payments out of the calculation of the Medicare Advantage benchmark cap. This will allow high performing plans to receive the quality payments that they rightfully earned and to use those payments to improve beneficiary care.
All Americans will one day become seniors, and so it should be the priority of all members of Congress to make retirement planning easier and to defend and strengthen programs like Medicare and Social Security for future generations.
The opinions expressed in “Congressional Corner” reflect the views of the writer and are not necessarily those of The Senior Citizens League.