Update for Week Ending January 22, 2022

Update for Week Ending January 22, 2022

Efforts to Lower Drug Prices Still Alive

Unless you do not pay attention to the news at all, you know that passing legislation to lower the prices of prescription drugs in the Senate has two main obstacles: in addition to every Republican Senator, there are two Democratic Senators - Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.

Because of complicated Senate rules, it takes 60 votes to pass most legislation, not a simple majority of 51. And since all 50 Republicans in the Senate refuse to support the legislation that would lower drug prices, Democrats must have all 50 of their Senators vote for the bill to pass it through a special process called “reconciliation.”  But Senators Manchin and Sinema have refused to support the current legislation for several reasons.

Last week, however, Senator Manchin said he would support a new bill that included certain things, including legislation to lower drug prices. However, he also said that a completely new bill would have to be written, and that takes a great deal of time – something the Democratic majority is running out of.

President Biden last week said that he is open to breaking up his top legislative initiative, the “Build Back Better” bill, into smaller pieces in order to get some of it passed. That was what Manchin was referring to when he said that one of the things he would support is prescription drug price legislation but in a new legislative package.

Competing with that effort is the need to pass legislation to keep the federal government open past February 18. Both efforts will require a great deal of legislative energy and keeping the government open will take priority since the deadline is less than a month away.

TSCL strongly supports any effort to lower drug prices so we will be pushing for a new bill to accomplish that. In addition, contacting your own Senators and urging them to pass legislation to lower drug prices will have a great deal of impact in this fight.

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Drug Companies Spend Record Amount to Keep Drug Prices High

We’ve told you in the past that the drug companies pulled out all the stops last year to fight the effort to lower drug prices. According to a new report from Bloomberg Government News, PhRMA, the lobbying group of the major drug companies, spent nearly $29.6 million on lobbying in 2021, the most money it has ever spent on lobbying.

In addition, the report states “Some individual drugmakers also stepped up their lobbying spending in 2021. Eli Lilly & Co.‘s $7 million and Merck & Co.‘s $8 million were record amounts for both companies.”

They spend that money in several ways, including a massive amount of advertising on TV, radio, and the internet. In the Washington, D.C., area there has been a constant barrage of ads on TV meant to influence members of Congress.

They also give the maximum amount of money allowed by law to the election campaigns of most members of Congress.

Their efforts are continuing this year as the fight to lower drug prices is continuing.

TSCL, on the other hand, does not give to election campaigns. Our finances are 100% dependent on our supporters like you. We run a very tight and lean operation and rely on our volunteer officers as well as a small paid staff to carry on the fight on your behalf.

It is very much a David vs. Goliath story, but we are on the verge of winning a major victory to lower drug prices.

However, your continued support and involvement are critical to winning this fight and we need you more than ever in this fight, and the other fights we engage in to make sure you can have the kind of life in retirement that you need and deserve.

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Social Security 2100 Bill Keeps Gaining Support   

We have told you in the past about the “Social Security 2100” bill that would improve benefits and strengthen the entire Social Security system. It’s a bill that TSCL has been working with its author, Congressman John Larson (D- Conn.), to get introduced and passed.

While the bill has not gotten much news coverage, it continues to gain support, and now has 199 co-sponsors, with two of them having been added last week.

It will be a tough fight to pass it this year, but we will continue in our efforts to get it done.

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Government Warns About Fake Covid Test Kits

A few days ago the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a warning about fraudulent testing kits being sold online to desperate customers.

"It's not a surprise that, according to the US Food and Drug Administration, fake and unauthorized at-home testing kits are popping up online as opportunistic scammers take advantage of the spike in demand," the FTC said in a press release.

Even though the Biden Administration has set up a website and is offering free kits to the public, the Coronavirus self-tests are in short supply locally in most places and people have been searching online or anywhere to find them.

The FTC has warned that buyers should be wary of scammers selling fake kits.

How to spot a fake test kit

The FTC suggests following these four steps before buying and using a testing kit:

1. Only buy tests authorized by the US Food and Drug Administration. The FDA's website has a list of more than 40 authorized home tests, some of which have age restrictions. You can buy these tests online, at pharmacies, and some retail stores.

2. Check the FDA's list of fraudulent COVID-19 products to ensure the test kit you're about to buy, or the company you're going to buy it from, isn't on there.

3. Look at a variety of sellers and compare credible reviews from expert sources like medical professionals or health organizations before making a purchase decision.

The FTC also advised searching on the Internet for the seller of the at-home testing kits along with words like "scam," "complaint," or "review" to catch the scammers.

To get the free government test kits you can go to COVIDtests.gov or you can order your kits by calling 1-800-232-0233 (TTY 1-888-720-7489). Your kits will be mailed through the U.S. Postal Service within 7 to 12 days.

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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’ve 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.SeniorsLegue.org or follow TSCL Facebook or on Twitter.