Legislative Update for Week Ending August 2, 2019

Legislative Update for Week Ending August 2, 2019

There was still much happening with Social Security and Medicare during a week that was dominated by the Democratic Presidential Candidate Debates.  New proposals for Medicare were revealed and lowering the cost of prescription drugs remained a Senate and Administration priority. Legislation supported by The Senior Citizen League continued to gain traction.

On Monday Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) released a health-care plan that is a revision of her previous position on the sharply divided issue.  In her plan, the Senator proposes a government-run system that would still allow for private insurance as long as it follows Medicare’s coverage rules.  At a glance, the plan seems to be a middle ground between Sen. Bernie Sanders’s Medicare-for-All proposal and former vice president Joe Biden’s desire to build on the current system.

Also on Monday, the Senate Finance Committee approved the Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act (no bill number available at this time).  This bill, if passed into law, would lower drug prices using several different factors including a maximum out of pocket cost and penalizing drug companies for raising prices faster than inflation. Later in the week, President Trump doubled down on his plan to import drugs from Canada.  The President’s plan would allow states, wholesalers, and pharmacies — under the watchful eye of the Food and Drug Administration — to create pilot programs to import medicines from Canada.  Several states are raring to go; Florida, Colorado, Maine, and Vermont, had already passed laws to import medicines, but were waiting for the Trump administration to give a thumbs-up on their ideas.

This weeks’ biggest story was the two night Democratic Presidential Debate in Detroit, MI.  The main topic of debate seemed to be Medicare.  All ten candidates hoped to use Medicare reform as their standout medium for the debate.  The Senior Citizens League is withholding its focus on each individual plan as the number of candidates narrows down.

Ironically, with all the Medicare news flow this week, Tuesday also marked the 54th anniversary of Medicare.  On July 30, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Medicare into law, dedicating it to former President Harry Truman, who "planted the seeds of compassion."

The Senior Citizens League was pleased to see support continue to grow for several of its key bills this week, and we thank the new cosponsors for their support.  In the months ahead, we will continue to advocate for the passage of the Social Security Fairness Act, the Social Security 2100 Act, the Fair COLA for Seniors Act, and get adoption of legislation that would lower the cost of prescription drugs.

For more progress updates or for more information about these issues, and other bills that would strengthen the Social Security program and make improvements to Medicare, visit the Bill Tracking section of our website or follow TSCL on Twitter.