Legislative Update: January 2019

Legislative Update: January 2019

How Your Opinions Help Shape Our Legislative Agenda

By Jessie Gibbons, Legislative Director

Each year, The Senior Citizens League (TSCL) asks supporters like you to help shape our legislative agenda by participating in our annual Senior Survey.  This year is no different.  With the 116th Congress sworn in, and a split party makeup on Capitol Hill – Democrats have taken over the House and Republicans remain in control of the Senate – The Senior Citizens League needs your help now more than ever.

Last year, the results of the Senior Survey showed overwhelming support for several important issues facing Social Security and Medicare beneficiaries, including the following four:

  • Adopting a more adequate Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA). Under current law, Social Security COLAs are based on the spending patterns of young, working individuals – not older Americans.  Basing the COLA on the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E) is a common-sense change that would result in an annual Social Security COLA that actually reflects the inflation experienced by seniors.
  • Making Social Security benefits modestly more generous.  To make up for years of inadequate COLAs, The Senior Citizens League believes Congress must take action to modestly boost Social Security benefits.  In the 115th Congress, we advocated for legislation that would increase benefits by $70 per month – an amount that most seniors feel is fair and necessary.
  • Increasing the Social Security payroll tax cap.  To cover the cost of a more adequate COLA and a modest boost in benefits, The Senior Citizens League has advocated tirelessly for an increase in the payroll tax cap, which is set at $132,900 in 2019.  Under current law, high earners pay no Social Security taxes on income over the cap.  Last year, survey respondents told us that must change, so that millionaires and billionaires contribute more fairly to the program.
  • Reducing prescription drug prices for seniors.  The Senior Citizens League was pleased that Congress successfully took first steps in 2018 to reduce out-of-pocket costs by phasing in lower coinsurance in the Part D doughnut hole more quickly, and prohibiting “gag clauses” at pharmacies.  However, Congress can and must do more to reduce prescription drug prices for Medicare Part D beneficiaries.  In 2018, we advocated for several comprehensive bills that would allow the federal government to negotiate lower drug prices, prohibit deals that keep generic drugs off the market, and cap out-of-pocket spending for older Americans.

This year, we expect these four important issues to remain at the top of our legislative agenda, but we need the help of supporters like you to set our priorities for the 116th Congress.  That’s why we’re asking our supporters nationwide to participate in our annual Senior Survey this month.  The results of the survey are our most valuable advocacy tool on Capitol Hill, giving our team the knowledge we need to inform Members of Congress, the media, and the public about the challenges facing older Americans.

Please take a few moments to fill out the 2019 Senior Survey online, or print it out and mail it to our office.  Your participation is greatly appreciated by our legislative team.  In 2019 we plan two major surveys — the first focusing on healthcare costs and Medicare in January and a second survey focusing on Social Security, in May.