The Senior Citizens League (TSCL) staff attended a hearing on Capitol Hill this week at the Senate Special Committee on Aging titled, “That’s Not the Government Calling: Protecting Seniors from the Social Security Impersonation Scam.” Using robocalls or, in some cases, live callers, criminals pretend to be government employees and claim that identity theft has been perpetrated against the senior with ones Social Security number. In order to get the “identity theft” resolved, the caller often demands payment via a retail gift cards, cash, wire transfer or other pre-paid methods. Some seniors have been bilked out of hundreds of thousands of dollars by these criminals.
The Social Security Administration and its Office of the Inspector General are working to stop the onslaught of this practice. If you or anyone you know suspects you have received a scam call, you should report the details of the call to the Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General online at oig.ssa.gov or by calling 1-800-269-0271.
TSCL agrees with Senator McSally (R-AZ) who said, “There’s a special place in hell for people who scam veterans or seniors.”
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Last week we told you that in an interview President Trump had said that he would “take a look” at cutting entitlement spending, which is Washington talk for cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. We pointed out that doing so would directly contradict what he said when he was running for President in 2016 and promised he would not do that. After we had sent out our update we learned that the day after the interview he sent out a Tweet attacking Democrats, accusing them of wanting to cut Social Security and saying “I have totally left it alone, as promised, and will save it!". Thus far, the President has remained true to his statement.
However, conservatives and budget hawks have long sought to roll back large government programs like Medicare and Medicaid in an effort to rein in the debt. There were reports this week that Republicans in the House of Representatives are insisting that stemming the growth of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid costs is absolutely necessary. Bloomberg news reported on a House Budget Committee hearing about a new Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report that projects trillion-dollar deficits for the next decade.
At the hearing the top Republican on the committee, Steve Womack of Arkansas and other Republican lawmakers said that Congress will need to limit the growth of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, which they referred to as “major mandatory programs.” According to the CBO report, the fiscal shortfall is largely due to the growth of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and interest payments as a share of the country’s gross domestic product, while tax revenue stays relatively steady and spending for other programs drops.
However, what the CBO report apparently does not point out is that major corporations in this country pay no taxes at all. That is happening because of the way the laws are written and allow them to get away with it legally.
In addition, the tax cut that was passed in the first two years of President Trump's term, when Republicans were in control of both the House and the Senate, lowered taxes on corporations that do pay them. What's more, that tax cut bill was not “paid for,” which means no taxes were raised and no spending was cut. The tax cuts were made by borrowing money. In other words, by adding to the national debt, which is what Congressman Womack and his colleagues are so worried about.
There are other places in the federal budget where massive amounts of money are being wasted, but it is not our job to decide how to deal with the national debt. What our job is, however, is to defend Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid for our nation's seniors who count on them every day and with your continued support we will continue to do that in every way we can.
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We also reported to you last week about our meetings with the staff members of five key Senators. Part of what we learned is that legislation to lower the cost of prescription drugs is in trouble not only because of differences between the Democrat-led House and Republican-led Senate, but also because of sharp differences among the Republican majority in the Senate.
We were told that one possible way of getting something through was if legislation to lower drug costs could be attached to a bill that deals with surprise medical billing. As a reminder, surprise billing typically refers to expensive, unexpected medical bills that patients receive even when they have health insurance that they expect will cover majority of costs of treatment. Although this is not too much of an issue for those on Medicare, it can be a real problem for seniors who still get their health insurance through an employer or pay for it out of pocket.
The good news on that front is that this week House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) announced his committee plans to move forward with new legislation in two weeks that deals with unexpected medical costs. He said his aides are in talks with the Senate Health Committee for a “bipartisan, bicameral” agreement that could win the support of Republican Senator Lamar Alexander, who leads the Senate panel and is retiring at end of this year.
TSCL will keep be working to fight any attempts to cut Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid, regardless of who or which party such attempts may come from. In addition, we will keep fighting to pass legislation that will lower the cost of prescription drugs.
For progress updates or for more information about these and other bills that would strengthen Social Security and Medicare programs, visit the Bill Tracking section of our website or follow TSCL on Twitter.