Legislative Update for Week Ending July 19, 2013

Legislative Update for Week Ending July 19, 2013

This week, Members of the House voted to delay two provisions of the Affordable Care Act. In the meantime, The Senior Citizens League’s (TSCL’s) legislative team met with several Members of Congress and their top aides, and three key bills gained critical support.

House Votes to Delay Health Mandates

On Wednesday, the House voted to adopt two bills that would delay the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance mandates. The Obama Administration announced in a blog post on July 2nd that it would delay the employer mandate for one year, until 2015. One of the bills that the House passed on Wednesday would codify that delay, while the other bill would delay the individual mandate for one year as well. If enacted, the bills passed on Wednesday could affect millions of seniors who are under the age of sixty-five.

The Obama Administration’s July 2nd announcement spurred a heated debate between leaders in Congress, and there has been much disagreement about whether one mandate should take effect as scheduled while the other is delayed. Speaker John Boehner (OH-8) recently stated at a conference: “Is it fair for the President of the United States to give American businesses an exemption from his health care law’s mandates, without giving the same exemption to the rest of America? … It’s not fair.” Meanwhile, on the other side, House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA-12) recently stated, “To delay the shared responsibility requirement … would undermine access to affordable coverage for the 129 million Americans with pre-existing medical conditions.”

Despite the partisan divide on the issue, both House bills were adopted with an overwhelming majority on Wednesday. However, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV) has said that he will not take up either bill, and President Obama has threatened to veto them if they happen to reach his desk. Regardless, TSCL will keep an eye on the evolving negotiations, and we will continue to post updates on the Affordable Care Act’s implementation here in the Legislative News section of our website.

TSCL Meets with Key Lawmakers

This week, TSCL’s legislative team, which includes former Congressman David Funderburk and Mrs. Betty Funderburk, met with several Members of Congress and their top staff to discuss issues of critical importance to seniors. The following bills, among others, were discussed this week: the Consumer Price Index for Elderly Consumers (CPI-E) Act (H.R. 1030), the Social Security Fairness Act (H.R. 1795), the PRIME Act (H.R. 2305), the Notch Fairness Act (H.R. 155), and the Medicare Physician Payment Innovation Act (H.R. 574).

TSCL would like to thank the following Members of Congress and/or their top aides for taking time out of their busy schedules to discuss issues of critical importance to seniors: Reps. Eric Swalwell (CA-15), Jim Bridenstine (OK-1), Elizabeth Esty (CT-5), Ann Wagner (MO-2), Doug LaMalfa (CA-1), Luke Messer (IN-6), Susan Brooks (IN-5), Juan Vargas (CA-51), Rodney Davis (IL-13), and Ted Yoho (FL-3).

Three Key Bills Gain Support

This week, two new cosponsors – Sens. John Barrasso (WY) and Jon Tester (MT) – signed on to the Preventing and Reducing Improper Medicare and Medicaid Expenditures (PRIME) Act (S. 1123), bringing the total up to nineteen. If signed into law, the bill would take a number of steps to prevent fraud, waste, and abuse within the two programs. It would enact stronger penalties, curb mistaken payments, phase out the “pay and chase” method, reduce physician identity theft, and improve data-sharing, among other things. TSCL enthusiastically supports S. 1123 since we believe greater efforts must be made to ensure that scarce Medicare and Medicaid dollars are being spent properly.

In addition, one new cosponsor – Rep. Donald Payne, Jr. (NJ-10) – signed on to Rep. Ted Deutch’s (FL-21) Protecting and Preserving Social Security Act (H.R. 649) this week. The cosponsor total is now up to twenty-five. If signed into law, Rep. Deutch’s bill would base the annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) upon the spending patterns of seniors, and it would gradually eliminate the cap on income subject to the payroll tax. TSCL is very supportive of Rep. Deutch’s bill since it would reportedly add another fifty years to the solvency of the Trust Fund, while also making COLAs more fair and accurate.

One new cosponsor also signed on to Rep. Rodney Davis’s (IL-13) Social Security Fairness Act (H.R. 1795) this week, bringing the total up to eighty-four. The new cosponsor is Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16). If signed into law, Rep. Davis’s bill would repeal two provisions of the Social Security Act that unfairly reduce the earned benefits of millions of state and local government employees each year. TSCL believes that the provisions – the Windfall Elimination Provision and the Government Pension Offset – should be repealed this year so that dedicated public servants receive the retirement security they deserve.

TSCL was pleased to see support grow for S. 1123, H.R. 649, and H.R. 1795 this week, and we look forward to helping build support for them in the coming months.