Legislative Update for Week Ending June 19, 2015

Legislative Update for Week Ending June 19, 2015

This week, lawmakers in the House debated legislation to repeal the controversial Medicare cost-cutting panel, the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). In addition, The Senior Citizens League (TSCL) saw one key bill gain four cosponsors.

House Debates IPAB Repeal Bill

On Thursday, lawmakers in the House began considering legislation (H.R. 1190) to repeal the IPAB, the unelected 15-member board that was created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to manage Medicare’s growth. The House Ways and Means Committee advanced the bill with a vote of 31-8 two weeks ago, and earlier this week it was approved by the House Rules Committee.

The bill, which TSCL supports enthusiastically, was amended this week to include a pay-for that would cover the projected cost of its passage. Since the IPAB currently has no appointed members and it has not yet been triggered to begin making recommendations to Congress, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that its repeal will have no budgetary impact over the next six years. However, it could increase spending by around $7.1 billion between 2022 and 2025 since it may be triggered during that timeframe.

To cover the projected cost, lawmakers included a reduction in funding to the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which was created by the ACA to support preventive care efforts, the management of chronic conditions, and developments in public health.

At the time of writing this week’s legislative update, the bill had not yet been approved on the House floor. However, its passage is expected by early next week. Despite bipartisan support in the House, its prospects in the Senate remain uncertain. Lawmakers in that chamber have not yet acted on their version of the bill (S. 141).

In addition, President Obama issued a veto threat earlier this week when he released a Statement of Administration Policy that read: “The Administration is committed to strengthening Medicare for those who depend on it and protection of the public’s health. We believe this legislation fails to accomplish these goals.”

TSCL disagrees, and we fear that if triggered, the IPAB’s recommendations could result in increased costs for beneficiaries or decreased access to quality medical care. In the weeks ahead, we will continue to advocate for legislation to repeal the cost-cutting board in the House and Senate, and we will post updates here in the Legislative News section of our website.

Key Bill Gains Cosponsors

This week, four new cosponsors signed on to the Social Security Fairness Act (H.R. 973), bringing the total up to 106. The new cosponsors are: Reps. Kathleen Rice (NY-4), Andre Carson (IN-7), Michael Fitzpatrick (PA-8), and Brendan Boyle (PA-13).

If signed into law, H.R. 973 would repeal the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO) – two federal provisions that unfairly reduce the earned Social Security benefits of millions of teachers, firefighters, peace officers, and other state or local government employees each year.

TSCL is a strong supporter of H.R. 973, and we were pleased to see support grow for it this week.