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President Proposes Allowing Medicare to Negotiate for Lower Rx Drug Prices

“It’s long past time for Congress to acknowledge the hard truth that the sky-rocketing cost of prescription drugs is hurting average Americans and our federal budget. Medicare spends billions providing Part D drug coverage each year while beneficiaries including seniors, the disabled and their families also face rising out-of-pocket costs and higher premiums. All the while, drug makers continue to reap the profits of their price gouging. In his budget, President Obama has again proposed lifting the ban preventing Medicare from negotiating prices with the drug companies. Big Pharma has lobbied hard to keep the ban in place but seniors expect, this time, Congress will do the right thing and finally allow Medicare to negotiate for fair prices.”...Max Richtman, NCPSSM President/CEO

Among the other budget provisions beneficial to seniors include:

  • closing the Part D donut hole two years earlier
  • additional funding for in-home services
  • reforms for overpayments going to private insurers in Medicare Advantage
  • a 7.44% increase in administrative funding for the Social Security Administration

However, the President’s budget was not all good news.  Once again, the budget proposes shifting even more healthcare costs to seniors by extending Medicare means-testing to the middle class and increasing out-of-pocket costs such as the home health care copayment and the Part B deductible. 

“The average Medicare beneficiary already spends nearly $4,800 per year in out-of-pocket health care costs with half of all people on Medicare having incomes of less than $24,150. People in Medicare simply can’t afford increased cost-sharing year-after-year.  What’s especially worrisome are efforts to portray expanding means-testing in Medicare as impacting only ‘high-income seniors.’  While that may be good political rhetoric the truth is, if passed, further means testing will actually target middle-class individuals”...Max Richtman, NCPSSM President/CEO 

African Americans Rely on Social Security for More of Their Retirement Income


As we celebrate Black History Month, it’s the perfect time to highlight how important Social Security is to the African American community.  The National Committee’s policy experts have prepared a new analysis of Social Security and African Americans. Here are some key points:

While Social Security is expected to be only one part of a person's retirement income, many minorities rely on it for more of their income. Because African Americans tend to have lower earnings and less pension coverage than White Americans, Social Security is extremely important for African American retirees.  Based on the most recently available data:

  • Almost three-fourths (72 percent) of African American beneficiaries rely on Social Security for at least half their income, compared to less than two-thirds (65 percent) of all beneficiaries.
  • Almost 50 percent of African American beneficiaries rely on Social Security for 90 percent or more of their income.
  • Approximately 37 percent of African American beneficiaries rely on Social Security for all of their income.

Minorities rely more heavily on Social Security due to a lack of other income in retirement. Few elderly minorities receive income from pensions and assets. The greatest disparity is in the receipt of income from assets.  Again, based on the most recent data,

  • 26 percent of African Americans received income from assets, compared with more than 55 percent of Whites.
  • 21 percent of African Americans 65 years old and over reported receiving income from private pensions or annuities, compared to 28 percent of Whites 65 years old and older.

IMPROVING SOCIAL SECURITY IS ESSENTIAL

As we have shown, Social Security is our nation’s most important and effective income security program for American workers, retirees and their families and is even more central to the economic security of African Americans.  Maintaining the adequacy of Social Security by improving it to better meet the needs of America’s seniors is essential.  Toward that end, the National Committee supports a number of improvements to boost Social Security, including the following:

  • Strengthen the COLA. 
  • Improve the Basic Benefit for all Current and Future Beneficiaries. 
  • Enhance the Special Minimum Benefit. 
  • Restore College/Vocational School Student Benefits.   

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New Election Website Designed for Seniors Launches Today

As Primary Season Gets Underway, SeniorVote2016

Provides Timely, Comprehensive and Important Resources for Voters

Whose Futures Depend on Social Security & Medicare

The 2016 election for the White House and Congress will be expensive, combative and extremely important for the future of generations of older Americans. Literally millions of American families are impacted by decisions made in Washington on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid yet these issues remain on the back-burner for many political candidates. To help arm voters with the facts, the National Committee has launched SeniorVote2016.org as a one-stop, easy to use source of information on the 2016 campaign. 

SeniorVote2016’s Candidate Watch provides easy-to-use interactive graphics showing the candidates’ campaign positions and plans for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid with links to additional interviews and statements about these vital programs.  The Reading Room offers details of current legislative proposals which would impact American’s retirement and health security including questions voters can ask candidates about where they stand on issues such as: turning Medicare into a voucher program, cutting Medicare to fund other programs, raising the Social Security retirement age, cutting benefits through adoption of the Chained CPI and creation of a cost of living adjustment for seniors (CPI-E).  Visitors to SeniorVote2016 can also Take Action directly from the website by pledging to vote and engaging on social media with other Social Security and Medicare activists. 

In addition to the roll out of SeniorVote2016, the National Committee has launched a daily email news digest, providing readers with the latest media coverage on the campaigns and the issues. “Your Morning Read” will have a summary of the important need-to-know stories voters will value as they determine which candidates are most committed to preserving and strengthening America’s most successful programs. 


Iowa Caucuses Today – Social Security is a Key Issue

According to the Iowa Secretary of State’s office, in 2012 85 percent of registered voters 65 and older -- the main beneficiaries of Social Security -- cast ballots compared with about half of voters under 35.   It should be no surprise then that a recent AARP survey of Iowa voters, Democrat and Republican caucus goers, showed that the vast majority consider Social Security a key campaign issue.

"When polled on the importance of candidates focusing on Social Security, the survey found that more than nine in 10 Iowa caucus goers think it is important for presidential candidates to have a plan for the future of the program. Regardless of age, more than half of all likely caucus goers think this is 'very important.'

“When asked if they have heard enough about the candidates’ plans for the future of Social Security, 51% of Democratic caucus goers said they’d like to know more about Hillary Clinton’s plans, and 38% would like to know more about Bernie Sanders’ plans. Among Republican caucus goers, 45% would like to know more about Donald Trump’s plans, and 41% would like to know more about Ted Cruz’s and Marco Rubio’s plans.”

Social Security has played a key role in Senator Bernie Sanders’ campaign as he continues to draw distinctions between his and Hillary Clinton’s plans.  Bloomberg reports: 

“Sanders wants to keep the cap on taxable income for Social Security at the current $118,500 a year for those earning up to $250,000 annually, and apply the levy on all earnings above that amount. It would mean the top wage earners would pay more to extend the solvency of the program and expand benefits by $1,300 a year for people making less than $16,000, he said. ‘That is my view, to the best of my knowledge, that is not Secretary Clinton’s view,’ Sanders told reporters on Tuesday after a campaign stop in Des Moines

“I think it’s a mistake to go in and say, ‘Here’s what I want to do,’ sort of in effect hand them your negotiating position,” Clinton told the Des Moines Register editorial board earlier this month. “I think it’s smarter to say, ‘Look, I’m never going to go along with your privatization plan. I will not go along with raising the retirement age as the answer to everything that ails Social Security, but I will work with you to try to figure out how we help those people who are most disadvantaged.”

There are also differences between the two leading GOP candidates in Iowa, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz -- at least on the campaign trail, that is.  While Trump has supported privatization and raising the retirement age, in Iowa he promises to protect Social Security and Medicare.  Cruz, meanwhile, has stated his plans to cut benefits, privatize Social Security, and convert Medicare into CouponCare very clearly.

The caucuses begin at 7 pm Central time with separate Democratic and Republican events taking place in each of 1,681 precincts across the state. The Des Moines Register will be posting results throughout the night.

 

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