This week’s twin Democratic victories in the Georgia Senate runoffs were a big win for seniors. Voters elected two champions of older Americans, Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, to the U.S. Senate — giving Democrats the majority in the upper house of Congress for the first time since 2014.
“Seniors in Georgia and throughout the country have reason to cheer the results of the runoff elections. We endorsed Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock because they understand seniors’ needs, especially during this time of crisis — and pledged to protect their lifeline social insurance programs, Social Security and Medicare.” – Max Richtman, president and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare
In December, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare launched a voter outreach campaign in Georgia to support both candidates. The campaign included radio ads, an online video, postcard mailings to thousands of National Committee members and supporters across Georgia, and social media outreach to the state’s voters.
Watch the National Committee campaign video:
As part of a new Senate majority, Ossoff and Warnock have pledged to defend seniors’ earned benefits – and expand them to meet current needs. Legislation to improve Social Security and Medicare, though far from assured of passage, could at minimum receive fair consideration in the U.S. Senate – where such efforts have been continually blocked by outgoing majority leader Mitch McConnell.
Most urgently, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), has promised to enact $2,000 stimulus payments, which would help seniors who are financially strained by the pandemic, among other vulnerable citizens.
The new majority also has an historic opportunity to lower prescription drug prices by passing House legislation (H.R. 3) allowing Medicare to negotiate costs directly with Big Pharma. Seniors have been struggling to afford ever-rising drug costs, too often forced to choose between paying for medication or other essentials like groceries. Making matters worse, Big Pharma raised the prices of more than 300 drugs in the United States on January 1st. Medicare price negotiation is the single most effective tool for relieving the pain of sky-high drug costs.
“Medicare ought to be able to negotiate for lower prescription drugs, and the VA does this right now… It’s cut the cost of prescription drugs in half. Why can’t we do it for Medicare?” – GA Senator-elect Raphael Warnock
“The drug companies have… bought off politicians, who let the drug companies keep price-gouging the American citizens. Lowering the cost of medicine in America will be among my top priorities in the U.S. Senate.” – GA Senator-elect Jon Ossoff
One of the most likely results of the change in Senate control is the strengthening of the Affordable Care Act. The ACA helped seniors by improving Medicare and limiting insurance companies’ ability to overcharge older customers for coverage – along with protecting patients with pre-existing conditions. President Trump and his party have spent four years trying to undermine the ACA; President-elect Biden and a Democratic Senate can fortify it, and possibly protect the ACA from being overturned by the Supreme Court.
The Georgia runoff results were historic in several ways. Rev. Warnock is the first African-American to be elected to the U.S. Senate from Georgia; Jon Ossoff the first Jewish-American with that distinction. Black voters, in particular, helped propel Ossoff and Warnock to victory in a runoff election that saw record turnout.
“Today, we celebrate. Tomorrow, we begin to seize the opportunity Georgia voters have given us to enhance the financial and health security of workers and retirees alike, at a time when both are at serious risk.” – Max Richtman