This week, the House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee held two hearings on the need to strengthen and improve the Social Security program. In addition, one key bill that would reduce prescription drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries gained support in the House of Representatives.
Subcommittee Discusses Social Security Enhancements
This week, the Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee held two hearings in an ongoing series titled “Protecting and Improving Social Security: Enhancing Social Security to Strengthen the Middle Class.” At the hearings, lawmakers and expert witnesses discussed several policy options that would improve the Social Security program.
In his opening statement, Subcommittee Chairman John Larson (CT-1) said: “As a Congress, we haven’t made improvements to Social Security since 1983; we haven’t expanded it in over fifty years … That’s why we’re having this series of hearings, because doing nothing isn’t an option.”
Subcommittee Ranking Member Tom Reed (NY-23) agreed, adding: “Much of the program we know today as Social Security was designed in the late 1930s. A lot has changed since then – today more women are working, people start their families later, and, in some cases, they live longer. It’s time to … come together to find bipartisan solutions to address these problems.”
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle expressed their support for three particular changes to the program: addressing the inequities created by the Windfall Elimination Provision, improving benefits for widows and widowers following the death of a spouse, and creating a new special minimum benefit for those who worked long careers in low-paying jobs.
The Senior Citizens League was pleased that these proposals received bipartisan support at this week’s hearings and we urge Congress to enact them this year. We hope lawmakers will consider several other benefit improvements as well. The Senior Citizens League has submitted a statement to the Social Security Subcommittee outlining three benefit enhancements for which our supporters have expressed overwhelming support. They are:
- Improving the Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) so it better reflects the inflation experienced by beneficiaries.
- Boosting Social Security benefits modestly to make up for years of inadequate COLAs.
- Cutting taxes for millions of Social Security beneficiaries with modest incomes just two times higher than the federal poverty level.
The statement submitted by The Senior Citizens League is available to read in full in the Legislative News section of our website. For more information on legislation that would strengthen and improve the Social Security program, visit the Bill Tracking section of our website.
Key Prescription Drug Bill Gains Support
This week, The Senior Citizens League was pleased to see support grow for the bipartisan Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act (H.R. 275). Four new cosponsors signed on, bringing the total up to twenty-six. The new cosponsors are: Representative Yvette Clarke (NY-9), Representative Salud Carbajal (CA-24), Representative Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), and Representative Chris Pappas (NH-1).
If adopted, this critical bill would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate lower prescription drug prices on behalf of Medicare Part D beneficiaries. Under current law, the federal government is prohibited from negotiating prices in the Part D program. As a result, older Americans often pay much higher prices for their prescriptions than those enrolled in private health insurance, Medicaid, Tricare, or other programs.
The Senior Citizens League thanks the four new cosponsors of the bipartisan Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act (H.R. 275) and in the months ahead, we will continue to advocate for its passage on Capitol Hill. For progress updates, visit the Bill Tracking section of our website.