Legislative Update for Week Ending April 26, 2019

Legislative Update for Week Ending April 26, 2019

This week, the Social Security and Medicare Boards of Trustees released their highly anticipated annual reports on the financial status of the two programs. In addition, lawmakers remained in their home states and districts to continue the two-week spring recess.

Trustees Release Annual Social Security and Medicare Reports

On Monday, the Trustees of the Social Security and Medicare programs released their annual reports on the current and projected financial status of the two programs. As expected, the Trustees found that both programs currently face significant but manageable financial challenges.

Social Security’s combined Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) and Disability Insurance (DI) Trust Funds will be fully funded until 2035 – one year later than was projected in last year’s report. At that point, if nothing is done by Congress, Social Security would still have the funds to pay out 80 percent of scheduled benefits using tax revenues alone. The Trustees also estimated that Medicare’s Hospital Insurance (HI) Trust Fund will be fully funded until 2026, at which point the program would still be able to pay out almost 90 percent of scheduled benefits using tax revenues.

Based on projections by the Trustees, Medicare Part B premiums will likely increase by around $8.80 next year, so the typical beneficiary will pay $144.30 per month, up from $135.50 in 2019. The Senior Citizens League is currently predicting a 2020 Social Security cost-of-living adjustment of around 1.2 percent, based on Consumer Price Index data through March. If those estimates are correct, most Social Security beneficiaries will see very modest increases in their net Social Security benefits next year after Medicare Part B premiums are deducted.

This year’s Trustees Reports show that both programs face modest financial challenges that can be addressed by Congress with minor reforms. The Senior Citizens League supports the passage of legislation like the Social Security 2100 Act or the Social Security Expansion Act, both of which would strengthen the Social Security program’s finances responsibly, without cutting benefits for current or future retirees. In addition, we hope Congress will pass legislation to bring down prescription drug costs in the Medicare program. Requiring Part D drug price negotiation would save billions of dollars for both the federal government and Medicare beneficiaries.

The Senior Citizens League is hopeful that Congress will pass responsible reforms to the Social Security and Medicare programs as soon as possible to strengthen benefits and restore the solvency of the Trust Funds. For more information about legislation that has been endorsed by The Senior Citizens League, visit the Bill Tracking section of our website.

Congress Adjourns for Spring Break

This week, House and Senate lawmakers remained in their home states and districts to continue the two-week spring recess. They are expected to return to Capitol Hill on Monday, April 29th. In the days ahead, Members of Congress may be hosting town hall meetings and attending events in their home states and districts.

The Senior Citizens League encourages its supporters to attend these events and to ask important questions of their elected officials, like the following four…

  1. New legislation before the House and Senate would repeal the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO) so that public servants receive the Social Security benefits they have earned and deserve. Will you cosponsor the Social Security Fairness Act (S. 521, H.R. 141) when you return to Washington on Monday?
  2. The government negotiates prescription drug prices for veterans and Medicaid beneficiaries, but it is barred from negotiating lower prices for Medicare beneficiaries. As a result, seniors enrolled in Part D often pay much higher prices than other Americans for their prescription drugs. What are you doing to correct this unfair policy?
  3. Under current law, the Medicare program excludes coverage of most routine and emergency dental care, leaving around 70 percent of seniors without comprehensive dental insurance coverage. Will you support the Medicare Dental Benefit Act (S. 22) to ensure that seniors have access to essential health care?
  4. The Senior Citizens League is predicting another record-low Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) in 2020 despite skyrocketing prescription drug prices and home heating costs. Will you cosponsor the Fair COLA for Seniors Act (H.R. 1553), which would make the COLA more adequate for Social Security beneficiaries?

For information about town hall meetings near you during the final days of the spring recess, call the local offices of your elected officials. You can find contact information for your Members of Congress right here.