Legislative Update for Week Ending July 17, 2015

Legislative Update for Week Ending July 17, 2015

This week, the White House held its day-long Conference on Aging and The Senior Citizens League (TSCL) announced its support for one new piece of legislation.

White House Holds Aging Conference

On Monday, the White House held its Conference on Aging, which occurs once every decade with the purpose of discussing and advancing initiatives that will improve the lives of older Americans. Several members of the Obama Administration were present at Monday’s event, and President Obama himself gave remarks on the challenges facing seniors today.

He said, “We have to work to do more to ensure that every older American has the resources and the support that they need to thrive. That challenge – protecting our seniors, dealing with the rising costs of an aging generation, ensuring we have enough home care workers looking out for our family members, maximizing the contributions that older Americans can make to our country – these challenges are just becoming more urgent.”

Nearly twenty new initiatives were revealed at Monday’s conference. In his speech, President Obama announced one that will encourage workers to save more for retirement by helping states create new workplace-based savings opportunities. Currently, around one-third of all employees do not have access to a workplace retirement plan. The initiative announced on Monday will “provide a clear path forward for states to create retirement savings programs” by the end of this year, President Obama said.

Another initiative announced on Monday will improve the quality and safety requirements for nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities. The new rule proposed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will update the standards that have been in place for nearly twenty-five years. According to the administration, it will “improve quality of life, enhance person-centered care and services for residents in nursing homes, improve resident safety, and bring these regulatory requirements into closer alignment with current professional standards.”

A third initiative will increase access to nutritious foods for homebound individuals who can no longer drive by allowing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits to be used for food delivery services. In addition, the Department of Transportation will be rolling out a new project called the National Aging and Disability Transportation Center. The $2.5 million initiative will help develop transportation options available to homebound older Americans.

The Obama Administration – along with many private corporations like Hewlett-Packard and Walgreens – announced several other new projects that will aim to improve the lives of seniors at Monday’s conference. For more information, check out the White House’s Fact Sheet that summarizes each one.

TSCL Endorses New House Bill

On Wednesday, Congressman Jimmy Duncan (TN-2) introduced the CPI for Seniors Act (H.R. 3074), and TSCL announced its support for it shortly thereafter. The bill, if signed into law, would mandate the formulation and publication of a new Consumer Price Index (CPI) specifically for seniors with the purpose of establishing a more fair and accurate cost-of-living adjustment (COLA).

Currently, Social Security COLAs are based on the CPI-W, which tracks the spending patterns of young, urban workers. This index underestimates the inflation that seniors experience since it fails to capture the medical and housing costs that many spend most of their incomes on. TSCL estimates that a CPI for seniors would put the annual COLA at two-tenths of a percentage point higher than the CPI-W. Over the course of a retirement, this would amount to several thousands of dollars more in Social Security benefits.

TSCL enthusiastically supports the CPI for Seniors Act since we believe it would go a long way in ensuring the retirement security seniors have earned and deserve. In the coming months, we will work tirelessly with Congressman Duncan to help build support for his critical new bill.