Legislative Update for Week Ending April 29, 2016

Legislative Update for Week Ending April 29, 2016

This week, The Senior Citizens League (TSCL) endorsed one new bill that would help close the Medicare Part D “doughnut hole.” In addition, several Members of Congress announced town hall meetings that are scheduled for next week’s recess.

TSCL Endorses New Medicare Bill

This week, TSCL announced its support for new legislation from Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (OR) – the Reducing Existing Costs Associated with Pharmaceuticals for Seniors (RxCAP) Act (S. 2864). The bill was introduced on Wednesday with the support of three original cosponsors: Senators Ben Cardin (MD), Michael Bennet (CO), and Maria Cantwell (WA).

If signed into law, the bill would eliminate all cost-sharing for Medicare Part D beneficiaries after the current annual out-of-pocket threshold of $7,500. According to Sen. Wyden’s office, 2.9 million Medicare Part D beneficiaries surpassed the threshold in 2013, many of them spending tens of thousands of dollars out-of-pocket for their prescription drugs. The RxCAP Act would eliminate all out-of-pocket costs over the $7,500 threshold, potentially saving thousands of dollars for millions of older Americans each year.

Upon introducing the critical new bill, Sen. Wyden said, “Escalating drug prices are increasingly straining the budgets of families in Oregon and across the country, particularly seniors in Medicare who often have to take multiple costly medications to stay healthy. It defies common sense that protections from high out-of-pocket costs exist for almost all other types of health coverage, but not for traditional Medicare.”

TSCL agrees, and we enthusiastically support Sen. Wyden’s new bill, S. 2864. Ed Cates, Chairman of TSCL’s Board of Trustees, wrote in a letter to Sen. Wyden: “In a recent survey of our members and supporters, 28 percent – more than one in four respondents – told us they fell into the Part D ‘doughnut hole’ in 2015. Many of them likely reached or exceeded the out-of-pocket threshold, spending $10,000 or more on their prescriptions in just one year.” He continued, saying: “We believe Congress must do more to protect older Americans from catastrophic costs that jeopardize their health.”

In the months ahead, we look forward to working with Sen. Wyden’s office to help build support for the RxCAP Act, and we hope to see it signed into law by the end of the 114th Congress.

Several Lawmakers Schedule Town Hall Meetings

On Friday, Members of the House and Senate will adjourn for a week-long recess ending on Monday, May 9th. Many of them will be attending local events and holding town hall meetings, presenting constituents with an excellent opportunity to have their most pressing questions answered. TSCL encourages its members and supporters to attend these events and to voice their concerns about important Social Security and Medicare issues like inadequate cost-of-living adjustments and skyrocketing prescription drug prices.

The following Members of Congress, among many others, will be holding town hall meetings next week: Sen. Joni Ernst (IA), Sen. Pat Roberts (KS), Sen. Charles Grassley (IA), Rep. Janice Hahn (CA-44), Rep. Pete Sessions (TX-32), Rep. Ted Yoho (FL-3), Rep. Mark Amodei (NV-2), Rep. John Duncan (TN-2), Rep. Tim Huelskamp (KS-1), Rep. Phil Roe (TN-1), Rep. Steve Womack (AR-3), Rep. Joyce Beatty (OH-3), Rep. Thomas Massie (KY-4), Rep. Tom McClintock (CA-4), Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (OR-1), Rep. Kevin Yoder (KS-3), Rep. Lynn Jenkins (KS-2), and Rep. Bruce Westerman (AR-4).

For details, or to see if your Members of Congress will be holding town hall meetings during next week’s recess, call their local offices. You can find contact information HERE.