Update for Week Ending June 11, 2022

Update for Week Ending June 11, 2022

New Social Security Bill Introduced – TSCL Endorses

Last week Congressman Peter DeFazio and Senator Bernie Sanders introduced joint legislation, the Social Security Expansion Act (SSEA), to strengthen and expand Social Security for current and future generations.

The Social Security Expansion Act would:

  • Extend the solvency of the Social Security trust fund 75 years, through 2096, by requiring the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share into the fund, just like everyone else. This legislation would lift the income tax cap and subject all income above $250,000 to the Social Security Payroll tax. Under this bill, more than 93 percent of households would not see their taxes go up by one penny.
  • Expand Social Security benefits across-the-board for current and new beneficiaries. Under this bill, Social Security benefits for someone turning 62 next year would be $200 per month higher.
  • Increase Cost-of-Living Adjustments (COLAs). This bill would more accurately measure spending patterns of seniors by adopting the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E), which would change the formula to reflect what seniors spend a disproportionate amount of their income on such as health care and prescription drugs.
  • Require millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share into Social Security. Currently, workers have 12.4 percent taken out of each paycheck and contributed to the Trust Fund, half paid by the employer and half by the worker. This bill would require the wealthy pay the same 12.4 percent on their investments and business income by increasing the net investment income tax by 12.4 percent and applying it to certain business income not already covered by payroll taxes.
  • Improve the Special Minimum Benefit for Social Security recipients. This bill will help low-income workers stay out of poverty by updating and increasing the Special Minimum Benefit and indexing the benefit level so that it is equal to 125 percent of the poverty line or about $17,000 for a single worker who had worked their full career.
  • Restore student benefits up to age 22 for children of disabled or deceased workers if the child is a full-time student in a college or vocational school. This legislation restores student benefits to help educate children of deceased or disabled parents (these benefits were eliminated in 1983).
  • Combine the Disability Insurance Trust Fund with the Old Age and Survivors Trust fund to help senior citizens and persons with disabilities.

TSCL’s endorsement of this legislation was included with the announcement from the bill’s sponsors:

“The Senior Citizens League (TSCL) is proud to support Congressman DeFazio’s Social Security Expansion Act. An extra $200 a month would go a long way in helping retirees make ends meet and extending the solvency of the Social Security program for 75 years means this benefit will pay itself forward for years to come,” said Richard Delaney, Chair, The Senior Citizens League.

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New Scam Warning Released

A Treasury Department watchdog last Friday released public service announcements cautioning the public about IRS impersonation scams.

The scams rely on impersonators who either claim to be IRS employees on the phone or create fake official-looking letters and emails. They try to trick taxpayers into providing personal information that can be used for identity theft or send money via debit card, wire transfer, or gift card to settle fake tax bills.

“If you receive a suspicious phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, just hang up,” J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, said in a statement.

George said that as of March 31, more than 16,000 people reported losing more than $85 million collectively to people impersonating IRS employees.

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Biden Administration Seeks More Direct Care for Nursing Home Patients

According to a new report from Kaiser Health News, “The Biden administration is considering a requirement that the nation’s 15,500 nursing homes spend most of their payments from Medicaid on direct care for residents and limit the amount that is used for operations, maintenance, and capital improvements or diverted to profits.

If adopted, it would be the first time the federal government insists that nursing homes devote the majority of Medicaid dollars to caring for residents.”

The report points out that “Medicaid … pays the bills for 62% of long-term care residents in nursing homes. In 2019, that totaled $50.8 billion. Medicare, which covers short-term nursing home visits for older adults or people with disabilities, spent $38.2 billion that year.”

It further points out that the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) does not require a specific number of care givers for each patient, even though studies have shown that there is a “strong connection” between the number of caregivers and the quality of care for each patient.

Nursing home industry groups “oppose requirements,” according to the article. Among other things, they “… argue that forcing owners to spend more money on direct care leaves less money for maintaining their facilities and that the quality of care will suffer. They also claim Medicaid doesn’t cover the cost of caring for residents.”

You can read the entire report by clicking HERE.

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Prices for New Drugs Soar

According to a report by Bloomberg News, research have found that over 47% of new drugs introduced in 2020 and 2021 cost more than $150,000 per year, compared to just 9% of new drugs from 2008 to 2013.

The median introductory price of a new drug in the US soared from $2,115 in 2008 to $180,007 in 2021, a 20% annual inflation rate over the period, researchers at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston found.

Drug companies regularly introduce new medicines that aim to improve upon the efficacy or tolerability of existing treatments. While public attention has focused on year-to-year price hikes for existing prescription medicines, the study indicates that soaring launch prices also contribute to rising costs.

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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.SeniorsLeague.org or follow TSCL Facebook or on Twitter.