Legislative Update for Week Ending April 17, 2015

Legislative Update for Week Ending April 17, 2015

This week, lawmakers in the Senate voted to approve a permanent repeal of Medicare’s flawed sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula, and The Senior Citizens League (TSCL) announced its support for one new piece of legislation.

Senate Passes Permanent SGR Repeal

On Tuesday, just hours before a 21 percent pay cut for physicians was set to take effect, the Senate approved legislation to repeal and replace the SGR – the flawed formula that determines reimbursement rates for doctors who treat Medicare patients. The bill, which was passed by the House two weeks ago, was adopted on Tuesday with a vote of 92-8. Shortly thereafter, President Obama released a statement saying that he “will be proud to sign it into law.”

TSCL is pleased that after more than a decade, lawmakers have finally passed legislation to repeal and replace the SGR once and for all. The SGR has not worked as it was intended to since 2003, and seventeen times it has called for steep physician pay cuts, threatening access to quality medical care for seniors. We are hopeful that the new system will bring increased stability to the Medicare program.

However, TSCL does oppose two provisions that lawmakers included in the package to offset the cost of the $210 billion bill: one provision would increase Medicare Part B and Part D premiums for wealthier seniors, and the second one would create a new $250 deductible for supplemental Medigap plans. Both provisions will require seniors to pay more for their health care, and TSCL feels strongly that seniors should not be required to cover the cost of the poor policy-making decisions that were made by Congress nearly twenty years ago.

Our legislative team will keep a close eye on the legislation as it is implemented in the coming months, and we will continue to advocate for policies that would reduce health care costs for Medicare beneficiaries. For updates on our progress, visit the Legislative News section of our website, or follow our new page on Facebook.

TSCL Supports New Legislation

This week, TSCL announced its support for Rep. Dana Rohrabacher’s (CA-48) No Social Security for Illegal Immigrants Act (H.R. 1716). The bill, if signed into law, would prohibit unauthorized workers from receiving Social Security benefits based on work done while in the country illegally, using stolen, fake, or fraudulent Social Security numbers.

TSCL enthusiastically supports the No Social Security for Illegal Immigrants Act, and in a survey that we conducted in January, nearly 90 percent of our members and supporters agreed that such payments should be prohibited. We commend Rep. Rohrabacher for introducing legislation that would protect the integrity of the Social Security program while preventing an unnecessary and unspecified strain on the Trust Fund. We look forward to working with him in the coming months to help build support for the critical piece of legislation.