Legislative Update For Week Ending October 28, 2011

Legislative Update For Week Ending October 28, 2011

This week, new co-sponsors were added to key bills and the Super Committee held its third public hearing.

Capitol Hill meetings Yield New Co-Sponsors

TSCL would like to thank Reps. Mike Doyle (PA-14), Gene Green (TX-29), Rich Nugent (FL-5) and Lynn Westmoreland (GA-3) for taking the time to discuss important issues for seniors and meet with TSCL’s Legislative Consultant Former Congressman David Funderburk, Betty Funderburk, and TSCL’s Legislative Assistant Jarrad Hensley.  TSCL also met with top staffers in the following offices: Reps. Barbara Lee (CA-39), Howard Berman (CA-28), Kenny Marchant (TX-24), Gene Green (TX-29), John Olver (MA-1), Mary Bono Mack (CA-45), Stephen Lynch (MA-9), Keith Ellison (MN-5) and Andre Carson (IN-7).

The meetings by the TSCL legislative team helped garner new support for key issues.  As a result of the meetings, Rep. Green (TX-29) co-sponsored H.R. 798, the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly Act (CPI-E), and H.R. 1001, the Social Security Notch Fairness Bill. Rep. Kenny Marchant (TX-24) co-sponsored H.R. 787, the No Social Security for Illegal Immigrants Act.

If passed, the CPI-E Act would base Social Security COLAs on a consumer price index determined by the spending habits of elderly workers instead of the current formula geared toward younger members of the workforce.  The Social Security Notch Fairness Bill is legislation attempting to amend the Social Security Act where “Notch Babies” born between 1917-1926 would receive a 5,000 dollar lump-sum compensation over four years or an increased monthly benefit.  The No Social Security for Illegal Immigrants Act would disallow Social Security benefits going to those who worked in the U.S. while “illegal.”

Super Committee targets Discretionary Spending

The third public hearing for the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, or “Super Committee,” took place this week to discuss discretionary spending. The twelve-member committee charged with creating a plan for cutting the Federal deficit by 1.2 trillion dollars nevertheless focused on mandatory spending.

Congressional Budget Office Director Doug Elmendorf offered testimony for the hearing and noted that this year’s discretionary funding for 2011 includes 712 billion dollars in defense spending and 566 billion dollars for nondefense items.  Though defense cuts are expected, Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (MT), who sits on the all-star panel, suggested a desire to trim three trillion dollars from the budget over the next decade which would include nearly 500 million dollars from Medicare and Medicaid.  Most experts expect some cuts to come from entitlement programs.

Health and Human Services Department announces new Outpatient Care Premium

Next year, Medicare beneficiaries will pay standard outpatient care premiums of 99.90 dollars per month according to Department of Health and Human Services officials.  This marks a roughly a three-and-a-half dollar increase from the 2011 rate.  With the recently announced Social Security cost-of-living-adjustment (COLAs) increase, Medicare Part B premiums will increase for about three quarters of beneficiaries in 2012.  During 2010 and 2011 when there was no COLA, the majority of beneficiaries were protected by a “hold harmless” provision which adjusted their Medicare Part B premium to prevent a reduction in Social Security benefits.