Legislative Update For The Week Ending October 21, 2011

Legislative Update For The Week Ending October 21, 2011

This week on Capitol Hill, a 3.6 percent COLA increase was
announced and TSCL-backed H.R. 219 (the Social Security Preservation Act of
) gained a co-sponsor.

3.6 Percent COLA Increase Announced for 2012

After a two-year hiatus, the Social Security Administration
announced a 3.6 percent increase in the cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) on
Wednesday.  The increase will mark the first time since 2009 that seniors will
receive an adjustment.

According to the Social Security Administration, nearly 55 million
Americans will receive the increase beginning in January.  Nearly eight million
Supplemental Social Income beneficiaries will receive their increase beginning
in late December of this year.

Experts warn, however, that a rise in healthcare premiums should
be expected.  Medicare Part B costs are expected to have the most significant
impact. Only the three-quarters of beneficiaries affected by the hold-harmless
provision can expect a security blanket ensuring that the increase in premiums
does not surpass the level of the COLA increase.

Security Trust Fund Preservation Bill receives additional

The Social Security Preservation Act of 2011 (H.R. 219)
gained increased support this week when Rep. Dan Benishek (MI-1) co-sponsored
the bill currently residing in the House Subcommittee on Social Security.  The
current co-sponsor total sits at nine.

The bill seeks to reform current spending habits of the Trust Fund
monies by requiring the Managing Trustee to invest the annual surplus of the
fund in order to draw additional revenue from the interest accrued.

New definition of “Income” may affect Medicaid

The House Ways and Means Committee approved H.R. 2576 this week.
If passed, this bill would provide a uniform definition of modified adjusted
gross income for determining eligibility for Exchange Subsidies, Medicaid, and
the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

The new uniform definition will exclude Social Security benefits
from being considered as income when assessing eligibility.  The bill’s sponsor,
Rep. Diane Black (TN-6), introduced the legislation after learning that
individuals who earn up to 425 percent of the poverty level could receive
Medicaid.  “This is unacceptable,” she said.  “I strongly believe that it is our
duty to ensure the very scarce Medicaid resources are there for those in most

President Obama strikes CLASS Provision

The Obama Administration announced that the Community Living
Assistance Services and Support (CLASS) Act would be removed from the
President’s signature healthcare plan.  The CLASS Act would have enacted a
long-term care insurance program aimed at providing additional assistance for
the disabled and elderly while steering seniors away from Medicaid.  Originally
proponents of the program insisted that it would effectively help reduce the
deficit, but increasingly skeptics called into question the accounting behind
the administration's claim.

Accordingly, support for the CLASS Act had waned enough for the
White House to kill the initiative. Health and Human Services Secretary,
Kathleen Sebelius, declared that there was “no viable path forward” for the
provision’s future in the President’s Affordable Care Act.  When signed into law
in March of last year, the President said that the program would be “the largest
middle-class tax cut for health care in history.” Yet, members on both sides of
the aisle expressed budget and long-term viability concerns.