This week, lawmakers in the Senate adopted a budget resolution that lays the groundwork for a repeal of the Affordable Care Act. In addition, The Senior Citizens League (TSCL) announced its support for three new bills in Congress.
Senate Adopts Budget Resolution
Early Thursday morning, following a seven-hour voting marathon, lawmakers in the Senate passed a budget resolution that includes instructions for four committees – two in the House and two in the Senate – to craft legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The resolution passed with a vote of 51-48, without the support of any Senate Democrats. While casting her vote, Senator Claire McCaskill (MO) – who serves as the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs – said: “Because there is no replace, I vote no.”
At the time of writing this week’s update, the House had not yet voted on the measure, but its passage is expected in that chamber by Friday. The committees of jurisdiction will then begin working on legislation to repeal the health care law. Through the budget reconciliation process, the Affordable Care Act is expected to be repealed by as early as February, and lawmakers hope to have a replacement plan signed into law soon after.
TSCL will continue to monitor the process since it will have an impact on millions of older Americans. For example, Medicare Part D beneficiaries who fall into the coverage gap – or “doughnut hole” – will face higher costs for their prescription drugs. For updates on the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, visit the Legislative News section of our website, or follow TSCL on Facebook or Twitter.
Three Key Bills Re-Introduced in Congress
This week, TSCL announced its support for three new bills: the Social Security Safety Dividend Act (H.R. 67), the Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act (S. 41, H.R. 242), and the Safe and Affordable Drugs from Canada Act (S. 64).
The Social Security Safety Dividend Act (H.R. 67), introduced in the House by Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), would give Social Security beneficiaries a $250 payment during years in which no cost-of-living adjustment is payable. If signed into law, it would provide much-needed financial support to older Americans in years like 2016, when there was no COLA. In a letter of endorsement, Art Cooper – TSCL’s Chairman – wrote: “Years of record-low COLAs will have a devastating impact on the long-term adequacy of Social Security benefits for more than 59 million beneficiaries … Your bill would go a long way in ensuring the retirement security older Americans have earned and deserve.”
TSCL also announced its support this week for the Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act (S. 41, H.R. 242), which was introduced by Senator Amy Klobuchar (MN) in the Senate and by Representative Peter Welch (VT) in the House. Their bill, if signed into law, would require the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to negotiate prescription drug prices on behalf of nearly 40 million Medicare Part D beneficiaries. If HHS were able to negotiate similar prices as those paid by Medicaid and the Veterans Health Administration, the Medicare program would save billions of dollars annually, and beneficiaries would have better access to more affordable prescription drugs.
Finally, TSCL announced its support for the Safe and Affordable Drugs from Canada Act (S. 64), which was introduced by Senator John McCain (AZ) earlier this week. If adopted, his bill would allow individuals to import their prescription drugs from approved pharmacies in Canada, where they are often a fraction of the price. It would bring much-needed competition to America’s prescription drug market, and it would increase access to affordable drugs for all Americans. Chairman Cooper wrote in a letter of support: “TSCL salutes you for introducing legislation that would ensure access to affordable, lifesaving medicines … we lend our enthusiastic support and the support of our membership to the Safe and Affordable Drugs from Canada Act.”
For updates on the three bills endorsed by TSCL this week, follow the Legislative News or the Track Bills sections of our website. To view TSCL’s full legislative agenda for the 115th Congress, click HERE.