Senate (Finally) Passes Historic Bill to Lower Seniors’ Drug Costs
After over a year of negotiations and near-death experiences, the Senate has managed to pass historic legislation that could, among several other things, lower prescription drug costs for seniors on Medicare.
If passed by the House of Representatives, for the first time, Medicare will be allowed to negotiate with drug-makers on the price of prescription medicines.
It would cap the out-of-pocket costs that seniors pay annually for prescription drugs at $2,000 and would ensure that seniors have access to free vaccines. There would also be a rebate should price increases outpace the rate of inflation.
The new law would apply to 10 drugs initially, beginning in 2026, and then expand to include more drugs in the following years.
An added benefit is that the bill is projected to save the federal government billions of dollars.
To pass the bill, it required the votes of all 50 Democrats in the Senate, plus the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Harris, who presided over the Senate during the marathon voting. The Constitution makes the Vice President the presiding officer in the Senate who can vote in the case of a tie.
All 50 Republicans in the Senate voted against the bill.
TSCL applauds this action by the Senate, and we urge the House of Representative to quickly follow and pass the bill.
While the legislation does not do everything, we believe must be done to help seniors, it is historic in nature, and we hope it is only the beginning of what is needed to provide a fair and decent retirement for all of America’s seniors.
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Legislation Lowers Insulin Cost to $35 per Month – but Only for Seniors
The bill that just passed the Senate originally had a provision that would have capped the cost of insulin at $35 per month for all diabetics who the drug, but because of a ruling by the Senate rule-maker, that provision needed 60 votes to pass instead of the 51 votes of a simple majority. As a result, only 7 Republican Senators voted to cap insulin at the $35 level for non-Medicare diabetics, meaning the provision failed. Only 3 more Republican votes were needed but they were nowhere to be found.
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What’s Next for the Prescription Drug Bill?
After passing the new legislation, the Senate is now in recess until after Labor Day. The House went into recess last week but is now scheduled to return to Washington this Friday to vote on the bill.
Since only a simple majority is required to pass legislation in the House and Democrats have a narrow majority, the bill is expected to pass and then be sent to President Biden for his signature.
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TSCL in the News
TSCL has become the “go to” place for many reporters who write about senior issues, including estimates of the annual Social Security COLA for seniors each year.
Today, the Washington Post, in an article about how seniors can boost their income in retirement, quoted TSCL’s forecasted COLA projection for next year.
Last week, TSCL’s Executive Director Shannon Benton participated in a press conference with U.S. Representatives Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) and Rodney Davis (R-Ill) to push for a vote on the floor of the U.S. House to advance their bipartisan Social Security Fairness Act, which now has more than 290 cosponsors and under U.S. House rules must be brought forward for consideration.
The Social Security Fairness Act would eliminate both the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO), two provisions of the Social Security Act that unfairly reduce or eliminate Social Security benefits for millions of Americans who have devoted much of their careers to public service — including police officers, firefighters, federal employees, and educators.
In a press release about the event, TSCL Chairman Rick Delaney was quoted as saying, “The rationale for both the WEP and the GPO — that the Social Security benefit formula is overly generous to these individuals is unjustifiable today. We need to stop penalizing public service employees by taking the Social Security benefits they rightfully paid for.”
Also last week, TSCL’s senior analyst for Social Security and Medicare, Mary Johnson, was featured in an interview with an ABC television station that also appeared in an article on MSN.com.
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As we continue moving toward a new normal in dealing with the Covid 19 pandemic, TSCL remains constant in our fight for you to protect your Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits.
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.