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1405, 2021

Giving Thanks to Seniors During Older Americans Month

By |May 14th, 2021|Older Americans|

In this space, we normally talk about the challenges that seniors face and the solutions we fight for.  But Older Americans Month 2021, with its theme “Communities of Strength,” presents an opportunity to switch emphasis – and talk about the strength of seniors and the contributions they make to communities everywhere.

Seniors have always been a positive force in society, as parents, grandparents, volunteers, mentors, and workers.  The pandemic only strengthened that role, even as it took a heavy toll on seniors themselves.  To that extent, their stepped-up participation in our lives is nothing short of heroic.

Even before the pandemic, grandparents were taking on greater responsibility for raising grandchildren.  According to Kiplinger, the number of children in their grandparents’ care doubled from 1970 to 2010.  In 2019, some 2.5 million grandparents were responsible for raising their grandkids. And those are only the ones who do so ‘officially.’

During the pandemic, working parents lacking sufficient child-care have turned to grandparents to help out with the children.  Grandparents have admirably stepped in to do everything from babysitting to home schooling to preparing meals for the family.

 “Whether students are learning at school or at home, or are not yet school age, more grandparents have jumped into daily caregiver roles. Many are happily working without pay, for the love of family, while others have accepted offers of money from their frazzled, eternally grateful adult children.” – WTTG-TV, Washington, D.C.  

During the height of the pandemic, Bill and Mary Hill of Phoenix, Arizona took care of their 8 year-old grandson five days a week, and supervised his homeschooling, because the child’s parents were required to show up for work in person.

 “At first it was like, we’d love to be a part of this and get to see our grandson more, really get to know him a little better,” Mary said. “At the same time, we were going, `Oh my gosh.’ We knew it would change our lives and it has. It’s much busier.” – Mary Hill, Phoenix, AZ via Fox5 D.C.

There are two-way benefits in these arrangements.  Grandchildren and parents get much-needed extra help – and seniors’ mental and physical health is often strengthened through social stimulation and enhanced activity.

Some of the extra help that seniors provide their families may not have been possible without their earned benefits – Social Security and Medicare.  The basic financial and health security that these programs provide give seniors the flexibility and peace of mind to contribute to their families and communities.

Jeanne Trimble of Northern Virginia told the Wall Street Journal that her Social Security benefits made it possible for her to retire and care for her son’s two young children during the pandemic.

“My son and daughter-in-law were reluctant to put the kids in daycare and were struggling to keep up with their own work schedules.  I’m 64 and was planning to retire in two years but my husband and I consulted with our bank and figured out that with Social Security, I could retire early to help out.” – Jeanne Trimble, Northern Virginia, in the Wall St. Journal

Helping out with grandchildren is only one of the many ways that seniors aid their communities. The Front Royal, VA Royal Examiner published a list of the myriad contributions that older Americans make to society, including:

  • As caregivers for an ailing spouse, with responsibilities ranging from managing household tasks to offering emotional support and providing medical care.
  • As babysitters for their grandchildren, whose parents are productive members of the workforce.
  • As organizers for events hosted by religious groups and other types of community-based organizations, which often struggle to attract younger participants.
  • As donators of time and money to charities, foundations, and non-profit organizations that support members of the community.
  • As mentors for the next generation, passing on family legacies, a lifetime of experience, and a career’s worth of knowledge.
  • As part of a support system for other seniors, such as by planning activities at their seniors’ residence or running errands for someone with reduced mobility.

One specialist in senior services summed it up nicely:

“Seniors are able to devote the required time and effort to see projects through from start to finish.  Seniors realize their needs can be intergenerational and what benefits them will also benefit the rest of society.” – Mickey Balas, Seniors Navigator

Southern California senior Cliff Adcock volunteered for Meals on Wheels

This is what we mean when we say that seniors contribute so much to our lives and communities. The reason we repeat it often is that some in government and the private sector suggest that seniors receive too much help, or can afford to sacrifice some of their hard-earned, already modest benefits for the cause of fiscal austerity.  We say, if anything, Social Security and Medicare must be strengthened and expanded.  As seniors continue to give back so much, we must always look out for them in return.


705, 2021

April Jobs Report Proves Jobs Plan Really Needed

By |May 7th, 2021|COVID, Infrastructure, President Biden, Social Security|

April’s disappointing jobs report serves as a reminder that President Biden’s American Jobs Plan remains not only relevant – but necessary.  “We can’t let up, this jobs report makes that clear. We’ve got too much work to do,” said the President today, urging the enactment of his economic agenda.

The US economy added only 266,000 jobs in April on the anniversary of the worst job loss for any month on record. That was far less than forecasts of economists, who had predicted America would add 1 million jobs last month. – CNN, 5/7/21

Biden’s American Jobs plan would provide well-paying jobs for Americans to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, which the President defined more broadly than just tunnels, roads, and bridges.  He proposes to spend $400 billion alone on the caregiving infrastructure for seniors – with an emphasis on home and community-based care. The American Jobs Plan aims to provide high-quality jobs for caregivers for seniors in their homes and communities. Many of these workers are women of color, who have suffered the most during the COVID recession.

Lower-income earners, women, Hispanic and Black workers bore the brunt of the pandemic layoffs and millions remain out of work. Yet some industries can’t find workers. That may seem contradictory, but it is proof that the job market is changing under the force of the pandemic. – CNN, 5/7/21

 In his plan, the President has made sure not to leave these and other non-college educated workers behind.

“An infrastructure program would create 8 million jobs for workers with a high school diploma or less, 4.8 million jobs for workers with more than a high school diploma but less than a bachelor’s degree, and 2.25 million jobs for workers with bachelor’s degrees and above.” – Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce

The American Jobs Plan would boost employment – and pay – for workers at all levels of education.  This not only helps Americans put food on the table as the country recovers from the pandemic, but it swells the rolls of workers contributing to Social Security.  More revenue rolling into the Social Security trust fund can improve the program’s financial health. 

“Since wage-earners contribute to Social Security with every paycheck, the revenue generated from these new jobs would significantly extend the solvency of the trust fund, currently projected to be depleted in 2035.  Not only would the program’s overall outlook brighten, workers could be eligible for higher Social Security benefits when they retire.” – Max Richtman, president and CEO, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare

The April jobs numbers need not be a reason for panic.  Economists and pundits may have been overly optimistic about the unemployment picture for last month, leading to disappointment over the actual results. It clearly will take more time for the economy to fully recover. As President Biden said today, the recovery from COVID will be “a marathon, not a sprint.”  The President’s American Jobs plan can inject a lot of new energy into the race toward recovery, while improving the livelihoods of current and future retirees.


2904, 2021

Biden’s Speech: President Calls for Prescription Drug Price Reform, Defers White House Action

By |April 29th, 2021|Congress, Democrats, Infrastructure, Prescription Drug Prices, President Biden|

Seniors had their moment in the sun when President Biden unveiled his first infrastructure plan earlier this month.  (The American Jobs Plan included an impressive $400 billion for improving senior care.)  His new American Families Plan — dubbed “social infrastructure” by some — has less to offer seniors, focusing more on children and families.  It includes more generous Affordable Care Act subsidies to help Americans afford Obamacare premiums, which would help near seniors (55-64) who are too young for Medicare.  But the new plan does not include action on a crucial issue to older Americans:  lowering the soaring cost of prescription drugs.

In his speech last night to a joint session of Congress, the President did make note of the prescription drug pricing issue:

“We all know how outrageously expensive drugs are in America. In fact, we pay the highest prescription drug prices of anywhere in the world right here in America… Let’s do what we talked about for all the years I was in Congress. Let’s give Medicare the power to save hundreds of billions of dollars by negotiating lower drug prescription prices.” – President Biden, 4/28/21

His acknowledgement and affirmation of the issue is important. Allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices with Big Pharma is at the top of the list for Progressive Democrats and seniors’ advocates alike when it comes to drug pricing reform.  But the White House has offered no specific plan.

Meanwhile, House Democrats have re-introduced the Elijah Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act (H.R. 3), which the Congressional Budget Office estimated would save the government some $400 billion in drug costs over ten years.  (It also would expand Medicare to include coverage for basic hearing, vision, and dental care – a longtime priority for the National Committee and other seniors’ advocates.)

Advocates are understandably disappointed that the White House will not be pushing for prescription drug legislation right away. Exorbitant drug prices have a real impact on seniors living on fixed incomes, who cannot afford ever-rising costs at the pharmacy counter.  According to Human Rights Watch:

Nearly 30 percent of adults in the US had not taken prescribed medication as recommended in the past year because of the cost. Instead of refilling expensive prescriptions, people skip doses or cut pills in half. – Human Rights Watch, 4/26/21

Skipping medications takes a staggering human toll.  A 2020 study by West Health Policy Center estimated that the inability to fill prescriptions due to cost will result in 1.1 million premature deaths among Medicare beneficiaries over the next 10 years.  That is an unacceptable result of Big Pharma price gouging.

The National Committee hopes that Congress can come together to support the inclusion of price negotiation in their version of the American Families Plan — and that they will respond to the desperate need for hearing, vision and dental services for seniors as part of traditional Medicare coverage.  Seniors are an important part of the American family.  They deserve our continued attention in this push to improve the nation’s “social infrastructure.”


1604, 2021

Romney’s TRUST Act is Back (Again)

By |April 16th, 2021|Congress, entitlement reform, Medicare, Senator Mitt Romney, Social Security|

photo by George Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

The TRUST Act is back again.  Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) reintroduced his bill on April 15th, after it went nowhere in the 116th Congress.  The TRUST Act purports to protect federal trust funds, including Social Security and Medicare’s.  But it would actually open the door to cutting both programs. The reintroduced TRUST Act is cosponsored by Republican members of the House and Senate and a handful of Democrats.

We urge them to reconsider their position — and to oppose the TRUST Act. Democrats must reject Republican attempts to undermine our nation’s most successful social insurance programs — crucial legacies of the New Deal and Great Society. Today’s workers and tomorrow’s retirees expect nothing less. – Former Senator Tom Harkin and NCPSSM president Max Ricthman, The Hill, 3/4/21

The bill would establish ‘Rescue Committees’ in Congress to draft legislation affecting the Social Security and Medicare – and fast track it for floor votes without going through the normal deliberative process.  For example, members would not be able to offer amendments to legislation that comes out of the ‘Rescue Committees.’  “It leaves the skeleton of the legislative process in place, but nowhere along the line can you make changes or improvements,” explains Maria Freese, a Social Security and retirement expert at NCPSSM.

Given that fiscal hawks in Congress want to cut Americans’ earned benefits under the guise of protecting or “reforming” Social Security and Medicare, the TRUST Act is dangerous.  It would open the door to slash both programs. Today’s seniors rely on their earned benefits to stay healthy and stay out of poverty.  Research indicates that tomorrow’s retirees will rely on these programs even more.  The last thing American workers need is to have their future benefits threatened. If anything, they should be expanded.

While it’s true that the Social Security and Medicare Part A trust funds will become depleted in 2035 and 2026 respectively if Congress takes no action, there are commonsense solutions that do not involve cutting benefits.  But, too often, “entitlement reformers” use the canard that “no one in Washington has the courage” to address Social Security and Medicare’s financial challenges, which simply is not true.  Representative John Larson introduced the Social Security 2100 Act, which would extend the life of the trust fund, partly by asking the wealthy to begin contributing their fair share of Social Security payroll taxes. Other members of Congress have offered their own solutions that do not ask future seniors to withstand benefit cuts.

“We agree that it’s important to address solvency,” said Dan Adcock, director of government relations and policy at the National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare. “We also think it’s equally important to address benefit adequacy, because of the struggle that the middle class and working class have these days in saving for retirement.” – Dan Adcock, NCPSSM Director of Government Relations and Policy

In fact, the TRUST Act does not require its “rescue committees” to consider the adequacy of current benefits — or the human impact of potential cuts. Retirees would be relegated to the status of figures on a balance sheet. This is not an acceptable outcome for our parents, grandparents, and friends who depend on their earned benefits.


904, 2021

President’s Infrastructure Plan Builds Stronger Foundation for Seniors

By |April 9th, 2021|Infrastructure, Long term care, Medicaid, President Biden|

The nation’s pre-eminent coalition representing older Americans supports President Biden’s American Jobs Plan “as a bold step in the right direction for seniors.” The Leadership Council of Aging Organizations (LCAO), currently chaired by NCPSSM, this week urged Congress to enact the President’s plan, “so that older Americans will feel the benefits across many areas of their lives — from housing to health to caregiving.”  The plan includes $400 billion in new spending for long-term care for the elderly and disabled, the second highest allocation of funds after ‘Transportation.’

Support for seniors is part of President Biden’s expansive view of “infrastructure,” which he explains “has always evolved to meet the needs and aspirations of the American people.”  Those needs and aspirations include older Americans who have contributed so much to our economy and enriched our lives.

The $400 billion in funding for older and disabled Americans goes toward home and community-based services (HCBS).  It will help millions of seniors to receive long-term care in the comfort of their homes and communities instead of in nursing homes.  The data show that HCBS is safer than nursing home care, with better mental and physical health outcomes.  The American Jobs Act also will create new and better jobs for caregivers, predominantly women of color who have been “underpaid and undervalued for too long.”

It’s expanded services for seniors. It’s for homecare workers who help seniors to stay in their homes… saving Medicaid hundreds of millions of dollars in the process.” – President Biden, 4/6/21

Seniors will benefit from the infrastructure plan in other life-changing ways.  The American Jobs Plan contains $85 billion in sorely-needed funds to improve public transportation.  Many seniors rely on public transit for shopping, banking, and medical appointments.  Yet, one transportation advocacy group estimated that more than 15 million seniors live in communities where public transit is “poor or nonexistent.”  We believe that some of the infrastructure funding for transportation should specifically benefit seniors under the Older Americans Act.

Housing is another crucial infrastructure issue for seniors. The American Jobs Act dedicates $213 billion to affordable housing.  Some of that funding should go toward the Section 202 program, which finances supportive housing for low-income seniors – and provides much-needed rent subsidies, too.

The American Jobs Act includes $100 billion to expand Broadband internet access, which should benefit seniors lacking connectivity

Of course, 21st century seniors not only need roofs over their heads, but broadband internet access to connect their homes to the wider world. Seniors without reliable internet access can become disconnected from family and community, and unable to conduct crucial transactions online.  Congress can ensure that some of this funding helps seniors better access the internet – including WiFi hotspots in underserved areas.

As the President’s plan is taken up by Congress, LCAO will continue to urge lawmakers to ensure that the American Jobs Act addresses the transportation, housing, broadband access, and caregiving needs of older people.  As NCPSSM president and LCAO chairman Max Richtman said, “Just as the President’s American Jobs Plan will rebuild our nation’s crumbling infrastructure, it must build a better foundation for society as a whole by fortifying services for all of us as we age.”


Giving Thanks to Seniors During Older Americans Month

By |May 14th, 2021|Older Americans|

In this space, we normally talk about the challenges that seniors face and the solutions we fight for.  But Older Americans Month 2021, with its theme “Communities of Strength,” presents an opportunity to switch emphasis – and talk about the strength of seniors and the contributions they make to communities everywhere.

Seniors have always been a positive force in society, as parents, grandparents, volunteers, mentors, and workers.  The pandemic only strengthened that role, even as it took a heavy toll on seniors themselves.  To that extent, their stepped-up participation in our lives is nothing short of heroic.

Even before the pandemic, grandparents were taking on greater responsibility for raising grandchildren.  According to Kiplinger, the number of children in their grandparents’ care doubled from 1970 to 2010.  In 2019, some 2.5 million grandparents were responsible for raising their grandkids. And those are only the ones who do so ‘officially.’

During the pandemic, working parents lacking sufficient child-care have turned to grandparents to help out with the children.  Grandparents have admirably stepped in to do everything from babysitting to home schooling to preparing meals for the family.

 “Whether students are learning at school or at home, or are not yet school age, more grandparents have jumped into daily caregiver roles. Many are happily working without pay, for the love of family, while others have accepted offers of money from their frazzled, eternally grateful adult children.” – WTTG-TV, Washington, D.C.  

During the height of the pandemic, Bill and Mary Hill of Phoenix, Arizona took care of their 8 year-old grandson five days a week, and supervised his homeschooling, because the child’s parents were required to show up for work in person.

 “At first it was like, we’d love to be a part of this and get to see our grandson more, really get to know him a little better,” Mary said. “At the same time, we were going, `Oh my gosh.’ We knew it would change our lives and it has. It’s much busier.” – Mary Hill, Phoenix, AZ via Fox5 D.C.

There are two-way benefits in these arrangements.  Grandchildren and parents get much-needed extra help – and seniors’ mental and physical health is often strengthened through social stimulation and enhanced activity.

Some of the extra help that seniors provide their families may not have been possible without their earned benefits – Social Security and Medicare.  The basic financial and health security that these programs provide give seniors the flexibility and peace of mind to contribute to their families and communities.

Jeanne Trimble of Northern Virginia told the Wall Street Journal that her Social Security benefits made it possible for her to retire and care for her son’s two young children during the pandemic.

“My son and daughter-in-law were reluctant to put the kids in daycare and were struggling to keep up with their own work schedules.  I’m 64 and was planning to retire in two years but my husband and I consulted with our bank and figured out that with Social Security, I could retire early to help out.” – Jeanne Trimble, Northern Virginia, in the Wall St. Journal

Helping out with grandchildren is only one of the many ways that seniors aid their communities. The Front Royal, VA Royal Examiner published a list of the myriad contributions that older Americans make to society, including:

  • As caregivers for an ailing spouse, with responsibilities ranging from managing household tasks to offering emotional support and providing medical care.
  • As babysitters for their grandchildren, whose parents are productive members of the workforce.
  • As organizers for events hosted by religious groups and other types of community-based organizations, which often struggle to attract younger participants.
  • As donators of time and money to charities, foundations, and non-profit organizations that support members of the community.
  • As mentors for the next generation, passing on family legacies, a lifetime of experience, and a career’s worth of knowledge.
  • As part of a support system for other seniors, such as by planning activities at their seniors’ residence or running errands for someone with reduced mobility.

One specialist in senior services summed it up nicely:

“Seniors are able to devote the required time and effort to see projects through from start to finish.  Seniors realize their needs can be intergenerational and what benefits them will also benefit the rest of society.” – Mickey Balas, Seniors Navigator

Southern California senior Cliff Adcock volunteered for Meals on Wheels

This is what we mean when we say that seniors contribute so much to our lives and communities. The reason we repeat it often is that some in government and the private sector suggest that seniors receive too much help, or can afford to sacrifice some of their hard-earned, already modest benefits for the cause of fiscal austerity.  We say, if anything, Social Security and Medicare must be strengthened and expanded.  As seniors continue to give back so much, we must always look out for them in return.


April Jobs Report Proves Jobs Plan Really Needed

By |May 7th, 2021|COVID, Infrastructure, President Biden, Social Security|

April’s disappointing jobs report serves as a reminder that President Biden’s American Jobs Plan remains not only relevant – but necessary.  “We can’t let up, this jobs report makes that clear. We’ve got too much work to do,” said the President today, urging the enactment of his economic agenda.

The US economy added only 266,000 jobs in April on the anniversary of the worst job loss for any month on record. That was far less than forecasts of economists, who had predicted America would add 1 million jobs last month. – CNN, 5/7/21

Biden’s American Jobs plan would provide well-paying jobs for Americans to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, which the President defined more broadly than just tunnels, roads, and bridges.  He proposes to spend $400 billion alone on the caregiving infrastructure for seniors – with an emphasis on home and community-based care. The American Jobs Plan aims to provide high-quality jobs for caregivers for seniors in their homes and communities. Many of these workers are women of color, who have suffered the most during the COVID recession.

Lower-income earners, women, Hispanic and Black workers bore the brunt of the pandemic layoffs and millions remain out of work. Yet some industries can’t find workers. That may seem contradictory, but it is proof that the job market is changing under the force of the pandemic. – CNN, 5/7/21

 In his plan, the President has made sure not to leave these and other non-college educated workers behind.

“An infrastructure program would create 8 million jobs for workers with a high school diploma or less, 4.8 million jobs for workers with more than a high school diploma but less than a bachelor’s degree, and 2.25 million jobs for workers with bachelor’s degrees and above.” – Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce

The American Jobs Plan would boost employment – and pay – for workers at all levels of education.  This not only helps Americans put food on the table as the country recovers from the pandemic, but it swells the rolls of workers contributing to Social Security.  More revenue rolling into the Social Security trust fund can improve the program’s financial health. 

“Since wage-earners contribute to Social Security with every paycheck, the revenue generated from these new jobs would significantly extend the solvency of the trust fund, currently projected to be depleted in 2035.  Not only would the program’s overall outlook brighten, workers could be eligible for higher Social Security benefits when they retire.” – Max Richtman, president and CEO, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare

The April jobs numbers need not be a reason for panic.  Economists and pundits may have been overly optimistic about the unemployment picture for last month, leading to disappointment over the actual results. It clearly will take more time for the economy to fully recover. As President Biden said today, the recovery from COVID will be “a marathon, not a sprint.”  The President’s American Jobs plan can inject a lot of new energy into the race toward recovery, while improving the livelihoods of current and future retirees.


Biden’s Speech: President Calls for Prescription Drug Price Reform, Defers White House Action

By |April 29th, 2021|Congress, Democrats, Infrastructure, Prescription Drug Prices, President Biden|

Seniors had their moment in the sun when President Biden unveiled his first infrastructure plan earlier this month.  (The American Jobs Plan included an impressive $400 billion for improving senior care.)  His new American Families Plan — dubbed “social infrastructure” by some — has less to offer seniors, focusing more on children and families.  It includes more generous Affordable Care Act subsidies to help Americans afford Obamacare premiums, which would help near seniors (55-64) who are too young for Medicare.  But the new plan does not include action on a crucial issue to older Americans:  lowering the soaring cost of prescription drugs.

In his speech last night to a joint session of Congress, the President did make note of the prescription drug pricing issue:

“We all know how outrageously expensive drugs are in America. In fact, we pay the highest prescription drug prices of anywhere in the world right here in America… Let’s do what we talked about for all the years I was in Congress. Let’s give Medicare the power to save hundreds of billions of dollars by negotiating lower drug prescription prices.” – President Biden, 4/28/21

His acknowledgement and affirmation of the issue is important. Allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices with Big Pharma is at the top of the list for Progressive Democrats and seniors’ advocates alike when it comes to drug pricing reform.  But the White House has offered no specific plan.

Meanwhile, House Democrats have re-introduced the Elijah Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act (H.R. 3), which the Congressional Budget Office estimated would save the government some $400 billion in drug costs over ten years.  (It also would expand Medicare to include coverage for basic hearing, vision, and dental care – a longtime priority for the National Committee and other seniors’ advocates.)

Advocates are understandably disappointed that the White House will not be pushing for prescription drug legislation right away. Exorbitant drug prices have a real impact on seniors living on fixed incomes, who cannot afford ever-rising costs at the pharmacy counter.  According to Human Rights Watch:

Nearly 30 percent of adults in the US had not taken prescribed medication as recommended in the past year because of the cost. Instead of refilling expensive prescriptions, people skip doses or cut pills in half. – Human Rights Watch, 4/26/21

Skipping medications takes a staggering human toll.  A 2020 study by West Health Policy Center estimated that the inability to fill prescriptions due to cost will result in 1.1 million premature deaths among Medicare beneficiaries over the next 10 years.  That is an unacceptable result of Big Pharma price gouging.

The National Committee hopes that Congress can come together to support the inclusion of price negotiation in their version of the American Families Plan — and that they will respond to the desperate need for hearing, vision and dental services for seniors as part of traditional Medicare coverage.  Seniors are an important part of the American family.  They deserve our continued attention in this push to improve the nation’s “social infrastructure.”


Romney’s TRUST Act is Back (Again)

By |April 16th, 2021|Congress, entitlement reform, Medicare, Senator Mitt Romney, Social Security|

photo by George Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

The TRUST Act is back again.  Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) reintroduced his bill on April 15th, after it went nowhere in the 116th Congress.  The TRUST Act purports to protect federal trust funds, including Social Security and Medicare’s.  But it would actually open the door to cutting both programs. The reintroduced TRUST Act is cosponsored by Republican members of the House and Senate and a handful of Democrats.

We urge them to reconsider their position — and to oppose the TRUST Act. Democrats must reject Republican attempts to undermine our nation’s most successful social insurance programs — crucial legacies of the New Deal and Great Society. Today’s workers and tomorrow’s retirees expect nothing less. – Former Senator Tom Harkin and NCPSSM president Max Ricthman, The Hill, 3/4/21

The bill would establish ‘Rescue Committees’ in Congress to draft legislation affecting the Social Security and Medicare – and fast track it for floor votes without going through the normal deliberative process.  For example, members would not be able to offer amendments to legislation that comes out of the ‘Rescue Committees.’  “It leaves the skeleton of the legislative process in place, but nowhere along the line can you make changes or improvements,” explains Maria Freese, a Social Security and retirement expert at NCPSSM.

Given that fiscal hawks in Congress want to cut Americans’ earned benefits under the guise of protecting or “reforming” Social Security and Medicare, the TRUST Act is dangerous.  It would open the door to slash both programs. Today’s seniors rely on their earned benefits to stay healthy and stay out of poverty.  Research indicates that tomorrow’s retirees will rely on these programs even more.  The last thing American workers need is to have their future benefits threatened. If anything, they should be expanded.

While it’s true that the Social Security and Medicare Part A trust funds will become depleted in 2035 and 2026 respectively if Congress takes no action, there are commonsense solutions that do not involve cutting benefits.  But, too often, “entitlement reformers” use the canard that “no one in Washington has the courage” to address Social Security and Medicare’s financial challenges, which simply is not true.  Representative John Larson introduced the Social Security 2100 Act, which would extend the life of the trust fund, partly by asking the wealthy to begin contributing their fair share of Social Security payroll taxes. Other members of Congress have offered their own solutions that do not ask future seniors to withstand benefit cuts.

“We agree that it’s important to address solvency,” said Dan Adcock, director of government relations and policy at the National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare. “We also think it’s equally important to address benefit adequacy, because of the struggle that the middle class and working class have these days in saving for retirement.” – Dan Adcock, NCPSSM Director of Government Relations and Policy

In fact, the TRUST Act does not require its “rescue committees” to consider the adequacy of current benefits — or the human impact of potential cuts. Retirees would be relegated to the status of figures on a balance sheet. This is not an acceptable outcome for our parents, grandparents, and friends who depend on their earned benefits.


President’s Infrastructure Plan Builds Stronger Foundation for Seniors

By |April 9th, 2021|Infrastructure, Long term care, Medicaid, President Biden|

The nation’s pre-eminent coalition representing older Americans supports President Biden’s American Jobs Plan “as a bold step in the right direction for seniors.” The Leadership Council of Aging Organizations (LCAO), currently chaired by NCPSSM, this week urged Congress to enact the President’s plan, “so that older Americans will feel the benefits across many areas of their lives — from housing to health to caregiving.”  The plan includes $400 billion in new spending for long-term care for the elderly and disabled, the second highest allocation of funds after ‘Transportation.’

Support for seniors is part of President Biden’s expansive view of “infrastructure,” which he explains “has always evolved to meet the needs and aspirations of the American people.”  Those needs and aspirations include older Americans who have contributed so much to our economy and enriched our lives.

The $400 billion in funding for older and disabled Americans goes toward home and community-based services (HCBS).  It will help millions of seniors to receive long-term care in the comfort of their homes and communities instead of in nursing homes.  The data show that HCBS is safer than nursing home care, with better mental and physical health outcomes.  The American Jobs Act also will create new and better jobs for caregivers, predominantly women of color who have been “underpaid and undervalued for too long.”

It’s expanded services for seniors. It’s for homecare workers who help seniors to stay in their homes… saving Medicaid hundreds of millions of dollars in the process.” – President Biden, 4/6/21

Seniors will benefit from the infrastructure plan in other life-changing ways.  The American Jobs Plan contains $85 billion in sorely-needed funds to improve public transportation.  Many seniors rely on public transit for shopping, banking, and medical appointments.  Yet, one transportation advocacy group estimated that more than 15 million seniors live in communities where public transit is “poor or nonexistent.”  We believe that some of the infrastructure funding for transportation should specifically benefit seniors under the Older Americans Act.

Housing is another crucial infrastructure issue for seniors. The American Jobs Act dedicates $213 billion to affordable housing.  Some of that funding should go toward the Section 202 program, which finances supportive housing for low-income seniors – and provides much-needed rent subsidies, too.

The American Jobs Act includes $100 billion to expand Broadband internet access, which should benefit seniors lacking connectivity

Of course, 21st century seniors not only need roofs over their heads, but broadband internet access to connect their homes to the wider world. Seniors without reliable internet access can become disconnected from family and community, and unable to conduct crucial transactions online.  Congress can ensure that some of this funding helps seniors better access the internet – including WiFi hotspots in underserved areas.

As the President’s plan is taken up by Congress, LCAO will continue to urge lawmakers to ensure that the American Jobs Act addresses the transportation, housing, broadband access, and caregiving needs of older people.  As NCPSSM president and LCAO chairman Max Richtman said, “Just as the President’s American Jobs Plan will rebuild our nation’s crumbling infrastructure, it must build a better foundation for society as a whole by fortifying services for all of us as we age.”



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