The Congressional two-week spring recess will continue this week. It is a good time to call the offices of your Senators and Representative and either leave a message for them about the need for relief for seniors and the urgency of passing legislation to lower the costs of prescription drugs. You may even be able to see your Senators or Representative if they are in your community this week.
* * * *
Senator Makes News at Local Town Hall Meeting
The importance of meeting with your Senators or Representatives when they are home was demonstrated last week at a local meeting with Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).
The Senator was asked by one of his constituents if the Republicans would try to repeal the Affordable Care Act if they became the majority in Congress.
Grassley responded by saying, “Yes, I’m saying that I would not — we’re not going to repeal the Affordable Care Act.” He then appeared to leave himself some wiggle room, clarifying that there are 49 other Senate Republicans and that he was speaking only for himself.
Grassley, who is 88 and is the longest-serving Republican Senator in Congress, is the top Republican on the powerful Judiciary Committee. He was among the most vocal opponents of the law when Congress was debating it more than a decade ago.
However, according to a report in the Washington Post, “… some Republicans have suggested that their party should continue to try to repeal the law if it wins back control of the House and the Senate this year. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said during a radio interview last month that he wants to see the GOP repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has repeatedly declined to detail what platform Senate Republicans would follow if they retake the chamber, saying only that the specifics will be discussed after the midterms.”
While most seniors do not rely on the Affordable Care Act for their healthcare because of Medicare or Medicaid, this is a good example of how important meeting with your elected officials is and how it sometimes can even make the news.
* * * *
Aid for Health Care Coming to Rural America
The Biden Administration is starting to identify the programs that will be receiving aid because of the President’s American Rescue Plan that was passed by Congress last year. There is good news for rural America on a number of fronts, including improvement in health care.
The Agriculture Department has announced that it has awarded $43 million in grants to 93 rural health care providers and community groups in 22 states.
This is important because the Covid-19 pandemic exposed long-standing problems with health care infrastructure in remote parts of the country and pushed many rural health providers to the brink.
* * * *
Talks on Important Drugs Have Begun
Discussions have started over the possibility of importing drugs from Canada as a way of lowering drug costs. The Food and Drug Administration (FDC) has begun talking with five states about how such a program could be implemented.
The five states involved in the discussions are Florida, Colorado, Vermont, Maine, and New Mexico. Each of those has submitted reimportation plans or are thinking about doing so.
However, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (Pharma), the lobbying arm of the big drug companies, sued to block a 2020 federal rule that would facilitate importation, citing patient safety and other concerns.
In addition, Canada has said it has no plans to participate and has told drugmakers not to take steps that could lead to drug shortages there.
The possibility of it happening looks distant right now which is why TSCL is continuing to push Congress to pass legislation that will lower drug costs.
* * * *
As we continue dealing with the Covid 19 pandemic, TSCL remains constant in our fight for you to protect your Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits. We have had to make some adjustments in the way we carry on our work, but we have not, and will not stop our work on your behalf.
For progress updates or for 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 Facebook or on Twitter.