Legislative Update for Week Ending June 22, 2012

Legislative Update for Week Ending June 22, 2012

This week, The Senior Citizens League’s (TSCL) Board of Trustees and legislative team held meetings with several Members of Congress and their top staff. In addition, the Board of Trustees presented one Member of Congress – Rep. Mike McIntyre (NC-7) – with the 2012 Seniors Advocate Award. TSCL also saw support grow for a critical piece of legislation this week.

TSCL’s Board of Trustees Meets with Members of Congress

On Wednesday, TSCL’s Board of Trustees, along with former Congressman David Funderburk and Mrs. Betty Funderburk, and legislative analyst Jessie Gibbons, held meetings on Capitol Hill in six Congressional offices. TSCL’s dedicated, all-volunteer Board of Trustees consists of the following members: chairman Larry Hyland, vice-chairman Tom O’Connell, secretary Charlie Flowers, treasurer Ed Cates, political action committee (PAC) treasurer Michael Gales, and board liaison and president of The Retired Enlisted Association (TREA) Arthur Cooper.

TSCL would like to thank Reps. Mike McIntyre (NC-7), G.K. Butterfield (NC-1), and Charles Gonzalez (TX-20) for taking the time to discuss the issues that are most important to our members and supporters. TSCL also met with Jeremy House, Legislative Assistant to Rep. Butterfield, Conrad Risher, Legislative Assistant to Rep. Gonzalez, Tommy Walker, Legislative Assistant to Rep. Diana DeGette (CO-1), Rebecca Shaw, Legislative Assistant to Rep. Chris Gibson (NY-20), and Nathaniel Ferguson, Legislative Assistant to Rep. Scott Rigell (VA-2).

During these meetings, the following issues were discussed: Social Security cost-of-living adjustments, Social Security Notch fairness, Social Security Totalization Agreement reform, and repeal of both the windfall elimination provision (WEP) and the government pension offset (GPO). Support was expressed for many of these key issues, and TSCL looks forward to working with these offices in the future.

TSCL Presents 2012 Seniors Advocate Award

On Wednesday, TSCL’s Board of Trustees, along with Executive Director Shannon Benton, presented Rep. Mike McIntyre (NC-7) with the 2012 Seniors Advocate Award for his efforts on behalf of the nation’s senior citizens. For more than fifteen years, Rep. McIntyre has been a leader dedicated to the issues that matter the most to TSCL’s members and supporters.

Rep. McIntyre has consistently cosponsored the Consumer Price Index for Elderly Consumers (CPI-E) Act, a bill that would provide seniors with a more fair and accurate Social Security cost-of-living adjustment. He has also cosponsored legislation that would close a Social Security loophole that allows non-citizens to become entitled to Social Security benefits for work done illegally.  Finally, Rep. McIntyre introduced the Notch Fairness Act in 2011, a bill that would provide those born between the years 1917 and 1926 with modest compensation for the lower Social Security benefits that they tend to receive.

In presenting the award, TSCL Chairman Larry Hyland stated: “Congressman McIntyre’s dedication and commitment to defending the benefits of seniors is greatly appreciated and has not gone unnoticed … By taking a stand, he brings seniors one step closer to the retirement security they deserve.” TSCL was pleased to announce Rep. McIntyre as the recipient of the 2012 Seniors Advocate Award this week, and we are grateful for his hard work on behalf of seniors across the country.

Support Grows for Key Bill

This week, four new cosponsors signed on to Rep. Schwartz’s (PA-13) Medicare Physician Payment Innovation Act (H.R. 5707), bringing the total up to eighteen. The new cosponsors are: Reps. Ed Perlmutter (CO-7), Gerald Connolly (VA-11), Mazie Hirono (HI-2), and Paul Tonko (NY-21).

If signed into law, the Medicare Physician Payment Innovation Act would repeal the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula for physician reimbursements, and it would set up a five-year trial period during which the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services would test and evaluate new payment and delivery models. TSCL strongly believes that the SGR formula breeds uncertainty in the Medicare program for both physicians and beneficiaries. Many doctors have stopped accepting Medicare patients, and many more are threatening to do so if a permanent solution is not established soon. We believe that Rep. Schwartz’s bill would bring increased stability to the Medicare program, and we were pleased to see four new cosponsors announce their support for it this week.