“Now is not the time to turn our backs on seniors by cutting Social Security and Medicare!” declared Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), kicking off a town hall in his home district with National Committee President and CEO Max Richtman on August 29th. Held in Des Plaines, Illinois before an audience of constituents, the event was entitled, “Keeping Our Promises to Seniors.”
During the hour-long town hall, Richtman and Rep. Krishnamoorthi pledged to continue working together to expand and strengthen Social Security and Medicare — and fight any attempts to cut or privatize them. “We have to protect Social Security and Medicare. That’s our promise… and in America, we keep our promises,” said the Congressman.
Richtman and Krishnamoorthi lauded the Democrats’ recently enacted Inflation Reduction Act, which empowers Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices and caps beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket costs for medications, among other measures to alleviate seniors’ costs at the pharmacy counter.
“Medicare is going to be able to negotiate the prices of some of the most expensive drugs. And the $2,000 yearly cap in Medicare Part D is going to help a lot of seniors who have been spending a fortune on very costly treatments. We worked on this for a long time and finally got it through the Congress.” – Max Richtman at Rep. Krishnamoorthi’s town hall, 8/29/22
Richtman praised Rep. Krishnamoorthi for “taking on Big Pharma” and contributing to this landmark legislation as a member of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. “This new law may be a bitter pill for the drug industry. But it will provide relief to millions of seniors,” Richtman said.
Prescription drugs were not the only things on constituents’ minds at the town hall. Participants asked questions about the controversial Medicare Advantage (MA) program — the privately-run alternative to traditional Medicare. MA plans, which are run by big insurance companies, are undergoing increased (some would say, overdue) scrutiny for questionable practices, including overbilling the Medicare program and denying reasonable care to patients.
“The HHS Inspector General’s report that showed that many MA beneficiaries were denied coverage even though it should have been approved under Medicare rules. Why? Because MA is a business. Insurance companies want to make money. Their priority is profit. If they can make more money by denying services, they’ll do that.” – Max Richtman, 8/29/22
Richtman told the town hall audience that Senator Ron Wyden, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has launched an inquiry into questionable Medicare Advantage practices. Sen. Wyden recently sent letters to 15 state insurance commissioners and state health insurance assistance programs requesting data related to “deceptive marketing practices.” The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) says it received more than twice the number of complaints from seniors regarding Medicare Advantage plans in 2021 than it did in 2020.
“I have heard alarming reports that MA health plans… and their contractors are engaging in aggressive sales practices that take advantage of vulnerable seniors and people with disabilities.” – Senator Ron Wyden’s letter to MA insurers and state insurance commissioners
Medicare Advantage plans spend millions of dollars on sometimes misleading television ads featuring celebrities like Joe Namath and Jimmy Walker. “Joe Namath was a great quarterback,” said Richtman, “But I’m tired of watching him and other famous people pitching Medicare Advantage when the ads don’t tell the whole story.”
Richtman and Rep. Krishnamoorthi also addressed Democratic efforts to expand and strengthen Social Security. Richtman cited Rep. John Larson’s Social Security 2100: A Sacred Trust bill, which would “bring in more revenue, extend solvency, and improve benefits… by changing the cap on wages subject to payroll taxes so the wealthy pay their fair share.” The National Committee has endorsed the Social Security 2100 legislation and Congressman Krishnamoorthi is one of the bill’s cosponsors in the U.S. House. (The bill is awaiting a vote in committee and on the House floor.)
Congressman Krishnamoorthi receives a 100% rating on the National Committee’s legislative scorecard, reflecting his votes on crucial issues affecting seniors. He told town hall attendees that both of his parents receive Social Security and Medicare benefits and were “happy” that he had received a perfect score from the National Committee, adding, “If my parents are happy, I’m happy.”