One of the most remarkable things about our current Congress is the way in which lawmakers have crafted massive, contentious legislation mostly in secret, and then rushed bills to the floor for a vote. When their healthcare and tax bills were released, lawmakers stormed ahead with virtually no public hearings, debate or “regular order” such as getting bill cost estimates from the Congressional Budget Office before taking key votes. Members of Congress voted on several bills to repeal and replace Obamacare at least twice within 24 hours after the bills were introduced. This Congress failed last year to repeal and replace the 2010 Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), but they say they have more big plans ahead, to cut Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. That announcement is the polar opposite of what many older Americans think Congress should be doing about these programs.
I’m hearing from an increasing number of older Americans who feel that common problems are not getting attention in the push for tax cuts or to repeal Obamacare. Here is a short list of just a few of the folks I’ve heard from over the past year,
- Barbara B is frustrated that her net Social Security benefit hasn’t increased in three years. Despite getting a 2% cost of living adjustment (COLA) this year — the “highest” in five years — the Medicare Part B premium is so high that it will take every penny of that COLA. “This isn’t right,” Barbara says. Barbara worries how she will cope with rising costs. She wants her Members of Congress to lower Medicare Part B premiums, and to enact legislation that would boost Social Security benefits and pay a more fair and adequate COLA.
- Millicent G. is frustrated that Congress has taken no action whatsoever to lower drug prices. Millicent has some savings, but she’s being forced to spend through it more quickly than expected. When talking about recent spiking drug costs, she says, “It’s just greed, greed, greed.” Millicent wants her Members of Congress to pay attention to price gouging and to give Medicare the authority to negotiate drug prices.
- Susan G. is frustrated that, in an attempt to lower rising Medicaid costs, her state has switched her adult son Andrew — who was born with cerebral palsy and needs full time care — to a new untested “special needs” Medicaid HMO. It’s too soon to know whether private insurance companies can supply all the required benefits to people like Andrew, who are among Medicaid’s sickest and most expensive long-term care patients. “Our lawmakers need to realize that peoples’ lives are at stake here,” Susan recently said. Susan wants the efforts by Congress to cut Medicaid by hundreds of billions of dollars to stop, and for lawmakers to start working together to build a better healthcare system. One in which no family is forced to go bankrupt because they can’t afford their medical bills.
The public is watching. But so is the press. The participation of hundreds of supporters like you in TSCL’s annual Senior Survey is swaying public opinion. Journalists are using the results from TSCL’s Senior Surveys to report compelling stories about issues that affect older Americans across the nation. Take The Senior Citizens League’s 2018 Senior Survey.