April 2023

April 2023

Extra COVID-19 Booster now Available for Seniors and other High-risk Americans

In mid-April, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced that people 65 or older with one Pfizer or Moderna updated booster can roll up their sleeves again if it has been at least four months since that last shot.

The schedule is a little different for people with weak immune systems. Most can choose a second Pfizer or Moderna updated booster at least two months after their first. Under the latest FDA and CDC guidelines, they also could get additional doses if their physician decides they need one.

Unfortunately, older adults continue to have the highest rates of hospitalization from COVID-19, even though cases among other parts of the population have declined.

CDC officials stressed there is variety among immune-compromised patients, from people with only mild impairment to those trying to replenish immunity that grueling cancer treatment knocked out.

Anyone who has gotten their initial vaccinations but has yet to have an updated booster can still get one. Only 42% of Americans 65 and older — and just 20% of all adults — have gotten one of those updated boosters since September.

The Food and Drug Administration has taken steps to make coronavirus vaccinations simpler for everyone. From now on, anyone getting a Pfizer or Moderna dose —a booster or their first-ever vaccination — will get an updated version rather than the outdated original shots.

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Senate Leaders Working on New Bipartisan Drug-Pricing Deal

The leaders of two key Senate health committees are trying to strike a deal on a group of drug-pricing bills, including ones to spur generic drug approvals, cut fees from pharmaceutical middlemen, and cap the cost of insulin.

The Democratic and Republican heads of the Finance and Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committees say they are trying to finalize drug-pricing legislation in the coming weeks on a package of bills that would include some drug patent changes already approved by two other Senate panels.

Having a lengthy list of small policy changes that together could equal a major overhaul may get the 60 votes needed to pass the Senate, but the legislation is running into some problems between the committee chairs over which committees should be in charge.

Senate leaders are debating how to encourage new generics to market and tackle how pharmaceutical benefit managers (PBMs) influence the cost of prescription drugs, among other measures.

The price of prescription drugs is one of TSCL’s top priorities, and we will closely monitor the progress of these committees as their work continues.

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House GOP Majority Leader McCarthy Believes He will be able to Pass Legislation to Raise the Debt Ceiling

You have undoubtedly heard about the crisis facing our country regarding the “debt ceiling.”  Right now, Congress is in a countdown to pass legislation needed to stop our government from defaulting on its debts.

The legislation concerns the “debt limit” or “debt ceiling.” The debt ceiling basically means that Congress must authorize more borrowing to pay off the bills it has already racked up — and if the debt ceiling is not raised, the country will default on those bills.

This is not new spending – it is money that Congress had already authorized to be spent. Many believe that the future of our entire economic system is at stake, but getting the two sides together to negotiate the needed legislation has been, and continues to be, extremely difficult. Instead, Republicans and Democrats seem to be playing a painfully slow game of chicken, each waiting for the other to flinch.

According to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, if the government reaches the debt ceiling without new legislation to raise it, "It is unlikely that the federal government would be able to issue payments to millions of Americans, including our military families and seniors who rely on Social Security."

If nothing happens and nobody blinks, the country will face its biggest financial crisis in history. If the US defaults on its debt, the stock market could crash, millions would likely lose their jobs, and US Treasury bonds, key assets in global finance, would suddenly be plunged into chaos.

The fact is, the debt limit has been raised over 100 times since it was put in place by Congress decades ago, including three times during the Trump Administration.

President Biden has said he wants a “clean” bill to raise the debt ceiling with no conditions attached. But the Republican majority in the House of Representatives wants to use any bill to raise the debt ceiling to include major cuts in federal spending.

In late April, Speaker of the House McCarthy announced that the GOP expects to pass a bill to raise the debt ceiling before the end of the month. However, the bill contains cuts to programs Democrats have said they will not support. So, unless the two sides sit down and negotiate a bill that both sides can accept, the crisis will continue, even as the anticipated deadline of sometime in June quickly approaches.

TSCL urges you to contact your Senators and Representatives and tell them to sit down and negotiate with the other side and solve this crisis before it is too late.

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For progress updates or more information about these and other bills that would strengthen Social Security and Medicare programs, visit our website at www.SeniorsLeague.org or follow TSCL on Facebook or Twitter.