Update for Week Ending May 14, 2022

Update for Week Ending May 14, 2022

  Farewell to Past Chairman George A. Smith

Mr. George A. Smith (1930-2022) served as Chairman of The Senior Citizens League (TSCL) Board of Trustees in 1997 and again from 2001 - 2005 and as an advisor from 2005-2007.

Mr. Smith was held in high esteem by the employees he oversaw and the Board of Trustees that he led. He garnered the utmost respect from the hundreds of Members of Congress and their staff that he routinely met with during his tenure at TSCL.

Under his direction and leadership, the organization went from a one-issue legislative agenda to an organization focused on hundreds of issues that are of concern to senior citizens. He spearheaded the organizations development from just advocacy to being a public education powerhouse of information on legislation, the inadequacy of the Cost-of-Living Adjustment, the excessive cost of prescription drugs and so many more issues. Because of him TSCL gained nationwide recognition as the reputable senior citizens social advocacy organization that is today.

TSCL’s Board of Trustees are all volunteers and receive no pay for the demanding work they put in, and none more so than Mr. George Smith. He will be missed.


Covid Booster Shots Critical for Seniors

If you have been watching the news, you know that deaths from COVID-19 are on the rise again after several weeks of increasing rates of new infections sparked by Omicron variants.

As a stealth wave of Covid makes its way across the US, those who have so far evaded the virus are now falling ill — while others are catching Covid for a second, third or even fourth time.

The U.S. averaged roughly 365 daily deaths, up 7% from about 342 two weeks ago. While that is still a fraction of where things stood several months ago when the daily average was in the thousands, there is growing concern that only about 1 in 3 Americans 65 and older who completed their initial vaccination round still have not received a first booster shot.

This is extremely troubling because this age group continues to be at the highest risk for serious illness and death from covid-19.

According to a report from Kaiser Health News, “Among older people who died of covid in January 31% had completed a first vaccination round but had not been boosted ….”

The report continues, “Although the initial one- or two-dose vaccination course is effective at preventing hospitalization and death, immunity fades over time. Boosters, which renew that protection, are especially important for older people now that covid cases are rising again, more transmissible omicron subvariants are proliferating, and Americans are dropping their masks ….”

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FDA Issues Warning About Counterfeit Covid Tests

On top of the increasing number of covid-related infections and deaths, last week the Food and Drug Administration put out a warning that the public needs to be aware of counterfeit at-home over the counter (OTC) COVID-19 diagnostic tests circulating in the United States.

According to a press release from the FDA, "Counterfeit COVID-19 tests are tests that are not authorized, cleared, or approved by the FDA for distribution or use in the United States, but are made to look like authorized tests so the users will think they are the real, FDA-authorized test."

The FDA is currently aware of two counterfeit at-home diagnostic tests: counterfeit Flowflex COVID-19 Antigen Home Tests and iHealth COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test Kits.

Here are some of the signs to look for in order to detect a counterfeit covid test:

  • Poor print quality of images or text on the outside box label for the product or in the instructions for use included in the box.
  • Missing information on the outside box label for the product, such as the lot number, expiration date, or barcode or QR codes.
  • Grammatical or spelling errors found in product labeling.
  • Components of the kits do not match the content description (for example, missing Instructions for Use, missing or unfilled components, different number of components than listed).
  • Tradename for product printed on component or box labels differ from the authorized labeling found on the FDA website: At-Home OTC COVID-19 Diagnostic Tests | FDA.
  • The box label or printed instructions for use look different from the authorized labeling found on the FDA website: At-Home OTC COVID-19 Diagnostic Tests | FDA.

You can more information about the FDA warning here: Counterfeit Covid Tests

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Drug Companies and Price Gouging

The high cost of prescription drugs is on the top of the list of concerns that many seniors have, especially as the increasing rate of inflation has forced so many seniors to spend their limited income on other necessary items.

TSCL has been fighting to get Congress to lower drug prices, but the legislation is blocked in the Senate because of disagreements between and among Republicans and Democrats.

Part of the reason for that is the huge amount of money the big drug companies have been spending to lobby Congress not to pass new legislation.

In addition, there has been infighting between various businesses and groups that are part of the complicated system that provides prescription drugs to the American people, one side blaming the other for the high prices, while also fighting to maintain their huge profits.

Last week, StatNews, a news source that reports exclusively on health care issues, published an article about a man who was “a pioneer of the argument that drugs were often underpriced and prices should be based on their value to patients and society, a strategy today known as value-based pricing. If someone thought the price was too high, then they simply needed to be educated about the drug’s true value. It is an argument that drug companies have used to justify ever-higher prices.”

The man, whose name is Mick Kolassa, was at one time “perhaps the most sought-after drug pricing guru in the United States.”

But, according to the article, “… in recent years, he has mostly stepped away from consulting about drug pricing, dismayed by how companies were distorting the concept of ‘value-based pricing’ and taking advantage of a broken market to price gouge.

According to the article, “The language of ‘value’ became not simply part of the decision-making process leading to those higher prices, but also the way to justify them to the public. It eventually replaced the traditional explanation of high R&D costs as the industry’s go-to defense for high drug prices.

“As more and more drug companies became aggressive on pricing, there were increases not just in launch prices but also in the emergence of regular price increases for drugs that were already on the market.”

There is much more information in the article, and you can read it in its entirety by clicking on the link at the end of this article.

But the article makes clear, as TSCL has been saying for a long time, drug prices are way too high, and Congress needs to take action immediately to lower drug prices – regardless of what the big drug companies are saying.  Read the full article here: Drug Pricing Playbook

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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 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.