Legislative Update for Week Ending March 23, 2018

Legislative Update for Week Ending March 23, 2018

This week, lawmakers reached a bipartisan deal to fund the federal government through the end of the fiscal year. In addition, The Senior Citizens League (TSCL) endorsed one new bill that would improve the Social Security program, and three key bills gained support.

Lawmakers Reach Omnibus Deal

On Wednesday evening, just two days before funding was set to run out, lawmakers reached a $1.3 trillion agreement on an omnibus spending bill that will keep the federal government running through September 30th – the end of the fiscal year. Those in the House passed the 2,232-page omnibus spending package on Thursday afternoon with a vote of 256-167, and those in the Senate took it up shortly thereafter, passing it with a vote of 65-32.

TSCL is pleased that Members of Congress reached an agreement to fund the federal government responsibly through the end of the fiscal year. Earlier this year, lawmakers allowed two brief government shutdowns to occur that could have negatively impacted the timely delivery of Social Security benefits and Medicare reimbursements if they were allowed to continue. The omnibus deal reached this week will ensure stable funding for critical programs like Social Security and Medicare in the months ahead. For more information, follow TSCL on Facebook or Twitter.

TSCL Endorses BASIC Act

This week, TSCL was proud to endorse new legislation entitled the Benefit Adjustment of Social Security Income Compensation Act (BASIC) Act (H.R. 5302, S. 1739). If enacted, the bill would permit the surviving spouses or families of Social Security beneficiaries to keep the check from the month their loved one passed away and to increase the death payment.

In a letter of endorsement for the bill, Art Cooper – Chairman of TSCL’s Board of Trustees – explained the hardship caused by the current law, saying: "As you know, losing a loved one is never easy for older Americans and unfortunately the Social Security system only makes the process more difficult for grieving families. Many are shocked when they learn that they must return their loved one’s most recent Social Security check after they pass away."

TSCL thanks Representative Peter DeFazio (OR-4) and Senator Chris Murphy (CT) for introducing the BASIC Act in the House and Senate to correct this injustice. Our legislative team looks forward to working with both offices in the months ahead to build support for their bill. For more information, visit the Bill Tracking section of our website.

Three Key Bills Gain Support

This week, TSCL was pleased to see support grow for three key bills. First, the CREATES Act of 2017 (H.R. 2212) gained two new cosponsors in Representative Bennie Thompson (MS-2) and Representative Dave Brat (VA-7), bringing the new cosponsor total to fifteen. If signed into law, H.R. 2212 would increase competition in the prescription drug industry by encouraging generic and biosimilar drug manufacturers to introduce their products to the market more quickly.

The second bill that grew in support this week was the CHANGE Act of 2018 (S. 2387), which gained one new cosponsor in Senator Susan Collins (ME) and brought the new cosponsor total to five. If signed into law, S. 2387 would direct the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to create programs that would promote early identification of Alzheimer’s disease, improve support for family caregivers, and provide continuous care for those battling many forms of dementia.

Finally, the Standardizing Electronic Prior Authorization for Safe Prescribing Act of 2018​ (H.R. 4841). H.R. 4841 gained three new cosponsors in Representative Earl Blumenauer (OR-3), Representative Donald Norcross (NJ-1), and Representative Neal Dunn (FL-2), bringing the cosponsor total to ten. If signed into law, H.R. 4841 would allow for and standardize electronic prior authorization (ePA) for Medicare Part D beneficiaries.

TSCL was pleased to see support grow for H.R. 2212, S. 2387, and H.R. 4841 this week. For more information on these and other bills that would strengthen and improve Social Security and Medicare, visit the Bill Tracking section of our website.