Legislative Update For Week Ending May 11, 2012

Legislative Update For Week Ending May 11, 2012

This week, The Senior Citizens League’s legislative team met with several Members of Congress and their top staff to discuss key issues affecting seniors. Additionally, two Members of Congress introduced a plan to repeal and replace the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula.

TSCL on the Hill

This week, TSCL’s legislative consultants, Former Congressman David Funderburk and Mrs. Betty Funderburk, along with TSCL’s legislative analyst, Jessie Gibbons, held meetings on Capitol Hill with Members of Congress and their top staff.

TSCL would like to thank Representatives Charlie Dent (PA-15), Emanuel Cleaver (MO-5), and Mike Kelly (PA-3) for taking the time discuss the issues that matter the most to our members and supporters. TSCL also met with top staffers in the offices of the following Members of Congress: Bob Gibbs (OH-18), Frank Pallone (NJ-6), Lou Barletta (PA-11), Mike McIntyre (NC-7), Reid Ribble (WI-8), Leonard Boswell (IA-3), and Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA-3).

During the meetings, the following issues were discussed: Social Security cost-of-living adjustments, Social Security Notch fairness, Social Security Totalization agreement reform, Social Security credits earned for work done illegally, 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.

New Plan would Repeal SGR

On Wednesday, Representatives Allyson Schwartz (PA-13) and Joe Heck (NV-3) introduced a bipartisan proposal to repeal the existing Medicare physician payment formula. Their plan calls for a five-year transition period, during which the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services would test out new payment models.

The new plan comes with a $316 billion price tag, but Schwartz and Heck have proposed to offset the cost with savings from military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many on Capitol Hill are dissatisfied with this offset, calling it a mere budgetary gimmick.

Congress has until January to settle on an offset compromise. However, if an agreement isn't reached before January, Medicare physicians will face a thirty percent payment cut. Reps. Schwartz and Heck believe that introducing a plan now will allow Congress plenty of time to review the issue and modify the proposal before a final plan is voted on.

TSCL firmly believes that Congress should repeal and replace the SGR in order to provide Medicare beneficiaries and their physicians with greater stability. The plan introduced by Reps. Schwartz and Heck is a step in the right direction, though there is likely much negotiating to be done before Congress can agree on a compromise.