Legislative Update for Week Ending November 8, 2019
The high cost of prescription drugs continues to beleaguer seniors, while Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) earned an estimated $22.6 billion in gross profits last year. PBMs act as middlemen between the drug manufacturers, insurance companies and consumers. There is suspicion that the PBM’s may be applying incredible markups to the prescriptions for their own financial benefits and not passing any savings on to the pharmacies that actually sell the drugs, who could then pass the savings onto consumers. Congresswoman Spanberger (VA-7) introduced legislation earlier this year with immediate support from Congressmen Jodey Arrington (TX-19), and Bredan Boyte (PA-2) to force transparency of the drug markups. There was no way to tell what those mark ups were until this past Tuesday, in a rare show of bi-partisanship the Public Disclosure of Drug Discounts and Real-Time Beneficiary Drug Cost Act - passed the House by 403 to 0. Congratulations are in order for Congresswoman Spanberger.
Introduced by Rep. John Larson (CT), the Social Security 2100 Act adjusts the payroll wage cap so that the very wealthy begin paying more by raising the tax cap, along with a 1.2 percent payroll tax increase phased in over 24 years. The bill also includes a 2 percent across the board increase in benefits and a more accurate inflation formula for calculating cost-of-living adjustments, the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E).
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found that the Social Security Trust Fund would still become insolvent — in 2036 under The Social Security 2100 Act. The Social Security Administration’s Office of the Chief Actuary (OCACT) shows this legislation having very different impacts on the financing of the trust fund. The OCACT says the 2100 Act would completely eliminate the shortfall and keep the program solvent for 75 years. So, which is right? Most experts are leaning towards the estimates provided by the OCACT claiming that agency took more variables into consideration.
This week Voters went to the polls in no fewer than 39 states on Tuesday, voting for governors, ballot initiatives and a multitude of various referendums. Now that those elections are in the bag, we can all start looking towards the federal elections in 2020!
As an affiliate of The Retired Enlisted Association, and with the upcoming Veteran’s Day on Monday, November 11, 2019, we are proud to announce that yesterday, November 7, 2019, President Trump signed the National POW/MIA Flag Act into law. Law now requires the POW/MIA flag to be displayed whenever the American flag is displayed on prominent federal properties, including the White House, U.S. Capitol, World War II Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, every national cemetery, the buildings containing the official offices of the Secretaries of State, Defense, and Veterans Affairs, office of the Director of the Selective Service System, each major military installation, each Department of Veterans Affairs medical center, and each U.S. Postal Service post office.
For progress updates or for more information about these and other bills that would strengthen Social Security and Medicare programs, visit the Bill Tracking section of our website or follow TSCL on Twitter.