Legislative Update for Week Ending March 30, 2018

Legislative Update for Week Ending March 30, 2018

This week, lawmakers returned to their home states and districts for a two-week recess. Meanwhile, The Senior Citizens League (TSCL) endorsed three new bills that would combat the opioid epidemic if signed into law, and one key bill gained support.

Congress Adjourns for Spring Break

This week, lawmakers in the House and Senate adjourned for a two-week recess. They are expected to return to Washington on Monday, April 9th. In the meantime, many Members of Congress will be attending local events or hosting town hall meetings in their home states and districts.

TSCL encourages its supporters to attend these events and to ask important questions of their elected officials, like the following three:

  1. Social Security beneficiaries received a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) of 2 percent this year, but most are seeing their benefit increases completely offset by higher Medicare Part B premiums. Do you support legislation that would give older Americans a more fair and adequate Social Security COLA?
  2. Roughly 56 percent of older taxpaying households paid income taxes on a portion of their Social Security benefits this year, even though many of them only made twice the federal poverty level in income. Do you believe this is fair, and if not, what should be done about it?
  3. Most Americans contribute 6.2 percent of every paycheck to Social Security, but due to the payroll tax cap, people earning more than $128,400 contribute nothing over that amount. Eliminating the payroll tax cap would extend the solvency of the program responsibly, without cutting benefits for seniors. Do you agree?

For more information about town hall meetings near you during the spring recess, click HERE. You can also call the local offices of your Members of Congress to request information about upcoming town halls. For contact information, click HERE.

TSCL Endorses Three New Bills

This week, TSCL endorsed three new bills that would combat the opioid epidemic and reduce its impact on older Americans if adopted.

First, the Expanding Access to Evidence-Based Opioid Treatment for Seniors Act (H.R. 5083) from Representative Richard Neal (MA-1) would permit Medicare to cover Opioid Treatment Programs (OTPs) that are proven to be the most effective for opioid use disorders. In a statement, Rep. Neal said: “This legislation addresses a gap in coverage, expanding access to critical and lifesaving treatment options for Medicare beneficiaries at a time when opioid abuse is growing among the senior population.”

Second, the Every Prescription Conveyed Securely Act (S. 2460) from Senator Michael Bennet (CO) would require opioids and other controlled substance prescriptions to be prescribed electronically under the Medicare Part D program, making it easier to monitor potential substance abuse. In a letter of endorsement, Art Cooper – Chairman of TSCL’s Board of Trustees – wrote: “In 2016, the controlled substance prescriptions of 14 million individuals were not adequately monitored due to the piecemeal supervision program that is currently in place … TSCL salutes you for introducing legislation that would ensure opioids are being dispensed responsibly.”

Finally, the Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Act (H.R. 3105) from Representative Jim McGovern (MA-2) would create a federal task force to research, educate, and disseminate information on the challenges grandparents face when they become the primary caretakers of their grandchildren – a situation that is becoming more common due to the opioid epidemic. Lawmakers in the Senate passed this legislation unanimously last week, and those in the House now must pass Representative McGovern’s bill before it can become law.

TSCL enthusiastically supports H.R. 5083, S. 2460, and H.R. 3105, and we believe that together, they would go a long way in reducing the negative impacts of the opioid epidemic on older Americans. For more information about these bills, visit the Bill Tracking section of our website.

Key Bill Gains Support

This week, the bipartisan Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act (H.R. 242) gained three new cosponsors in Representative Francis Rooney (FL-19), Representative Ruben Gallego (AZ-7), and Representative Mark Takano (CA-41). The cosponsor total is now up to thirty-five. If adopted, H.R. 242 would require the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to negotiate covered Part D prescription drug prices on behalf of Medicare beneficiaries – a change that more than 95 percent of TSCL’s supporters approve of.

TSCL was pleased to see support grow for H.R. 242 this week, and we will continue to advocate for its passage in the months ahead. For more information, visit the Bill Tracking section of our website.