TSCL’s Endorsement Sought for Social Security Bill
Last week TSCL was contacted by the office of Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-Wash.) seeking our endorsement of legislation he is introducing titled the “Social Security Stabilization and Enhancement Act.” Rep. DeFazio says this bill is a fix for the looming Social Security Trust Fund insolvency.
This is the same bill he introduced in 2019 which TSCL endorsed then and we have endorsed this new bill once again.
We were also told that the Congressman is working on further legislation to raise benefits and further extend solvency which he plans on introducing later this year. We will report on that new bill whenever it is introduced.
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The President Introduces his Plan to Lower Drug Prices
Last week President Biden’s administration unveiled its plan to lower prescription drug prices that includes a number of aggressive proposals but that are basically the same proposals that Democrats have pushed for years, many of which Democrats in Congress are currently working on to include in upcoming legislation. The plan would allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices with manufacturers, a longstanding pledge from Biden, Democratic lawmakers, and every Democratic presidential candidate in 2020. It also would limit yearly price increases, allow the importation of drugs from Canada, and place a cap on out-of-pocket spending for Medicare beneficiaries
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House Democrats also Unveil Proposals to Lower Drug Prices
Also last week, House Democrats unveiled a range of health care measures to be included in their coming $3.5 trillion package, including provisions to lower prescription drug prices and expand Medicaid in the 12 GOP-led states that have refused to do so. The measure unveiled by the House Energy and Commerce Committee includes legislation to allow the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate lower drug prices, known as H.R. 3.
Separately, the House Ways and Means Committee Means Committee approved the largest expansion of Medicare since the addition of drug benefits two decades ago.
The bill would provide seniors with vision benefits in 2022, hearing benefits in 2023 and some dental benefits by 2028. Progressives are pushing for an earlier start to the dental benefits and that the government increase its share of the cost, which ramps up to 50% by 2032.
Democrats have delayed the start of the program in part because of its cost and an agreement to limit the overall spending in the Biden budget bill to $3.5 trillion. There is some talk on Capitol Hill of offering seniors limited vouchers to use toward dental benefits before 2028 as a compromise.
Meanwhile, Republicans argued that Medicare should not be expanded when its hospital fund is already slated to be insolvent in 2026.
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Seniors and the Covid Vaccine
As we all know, senior citizens are the most likely to be hospitalized or die from the Covid-19 virus -- by a wide margin.
Retired seniors have been far more accepting of vaccines than their working-age counterparts. Their full vaccination rate is about 82%, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Because they’re susceptible to severe illness, even relatively few unvaccinated seniors mean more deaths -- and more crowded hospitals -- than would occur in a larger pool of younger adults.
About 75 million people in the U.S. are 60 and older. Recently, about four-fifths of the nation’s Covid deaths have occurred in that population.
It turns out than among seniors who are not vaccinated, the biggest problem may be access to the vaccine as opposed to opposition to getting the shot.
According to a report in BGov News, “… younger seniors have shown a greater appetite for vaccines than their older peers. Initially, the opposite was true, as governments sent inoculation teams into nursing homes and assisted-living facilities. Recently, the numbers have flipped, adding support to the idea that some elderly residents -- especially those outside structured-living arrangements -- are simply having trouble navigating the system.”
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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 the our website at www.SeniorsLeague.org, follow TSCL on Twitter or Facebook.