Legislative Update: August 2017

Legislative Update: August 2017

Questions For Congress At Your Next Town Hall

By Jessie Gibbons, Senior Policy Analyst

The U.S. House and Senate have adjourned for a month-long recess, and many lawmakers will be hosting town hall meetings in their home states and districts throughout the month of August.  The Senior Citizens League (TSCL) encourages you to attend these events, since they present excellent opportunities for constituents to make your voices heard.  To be best prepared for your next town hall meeting, jot down some questions for which you would like answers.  Below are seven examples – feel free to take them with you and share them with others at your next town hall.

  1. Around 20% of Medicare beneficiaries are also enrolled in Medicaid and a large percent of those receive help from the program to cover long-term nursing home stays. The House-passed American Health Care Act cut Medicaid by more than $800 billion, and President Trump’s recent budget blueprint called for another $610 billion in Medicaid cuts. How will you ensure access to nursing home care, and can you guarantee that older Americans will not be forced out of skilled nursing facilities due to funding cuts?
  2. Social Security beneficiaries received another record-low cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) of just 0.3% this year. But if the COLA were based on a more accurate measure of inflation for seniors, like the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E), they would be receiving an increase of 2.1% according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Do you support legislation that would give older Americans a more fair and adequate Social Security COLA?
  3. Roughly 56% of older taxpaying households paid income taxes on a portion of their Social Security benefits this year, even though many of them only made twice the federal poverty level in income. Do you believe this is fair, and if not, what should be done about it?
  4. Most Americans contribute 6.2 percent of every paycheck to Social Security, but due to the payroll tax cap, people earning more than $127,200 contribute nothing over that amount. Will you cosponsor legislation that would require millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share into the Social Security program?
  5. The Social Security Trust Fund is the single largest government account holding U.S. debt, with the federal government owing the program around $2.8 trillion. Most older voters – around 95% according to a recent survey from The Senior Citizens League – believe the money owed should be repaid in full rather than cutting benefits to reduce the deficit. Do you agree?
  6. The federal government negotiates prescription drug prices for Medicaid and for veterans, but it is not allowed to negotiate lower prices for Medicare beneficiaries. As a result, senior citizens often pay much higher prices for their prescriptions.  What do you feel should be done about this?
  7. If signed into law, the House-passed American Health Care Act would create an immediate funding crisis for the Medicare Part A Trust Fund by eliminating a key revenue source and providing the wealthiest Americans with a massive tax cut. Do you support this provision of the bill, and if adopted, what efforts would you back to address the Medicare funding crisis?