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AMAC provides legislative commendations to safeguard seniors

by | May 21, 2020 | Opinion

WASHINGTON, DC, May 18 – AMAC Action has pro­vided the Congress and the Administration a series of recommendations aimed at safeguarding seniors’ interests within the flurry of legislative proposals designed to cope with COVID-19’s aftermath.

Senior Americans are among those most impacted by the virus, not just from a health susceptibility standpoint, but from an economic impact per­spective. We believe our rec­ommendations will be helpful to the Congress in addressing issues seniors face.

Among the recommenda­tions:

Make the healthcare system more transparent.

• Replace “surprise medical billing” with a fair and equita­ble arbitration process. AMAC supports enactment of legisla­tion such as HR 3502, a strong bipartisan bill that comprehen­sively and properly addresses the surprise bill issue.

• Order compelling price transparency between hospi­tals and insurers. The health care system is in dire need of transparency and the freedom for patients to experience the individualized care they want for themselves and their fami­lies.

• Enact the “Lowering Prescription Drug Prices for America’s Seniors and Fami­lies Act of 2020” (S. 3384) which would require Medi­care Part D plans to include real-time benefit information. Knowing what’s covered and how much they would have to pay out-of-pocket would empower seniors to take more control over their prescription costs.”

Increase long-term health for individuals and society.

• Increase Access to Prima­ry Physician Care for Medic­aid-Eligible Americans. Enact the Physician Pro Bono Care Act (H.R. 856). This biparti­san bill increases access for low-income patients to receive chronic healthcare at physician and clinical offices, rather than expensive hospital ERs. By offering physicians the oppor­tunity to take a charitable tax deduction for seeing Medicaid eligible patients in their offices and clinics, Medicaid and the Children›s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) could see bil­lions of dollars in savings. The cost of this self-executing tax deduction pales in comparison to the level of Medicaid and CHIP reimbursements for the same services, particularly the costs for chronic care in ER visits – a 95% savings.

• Enact the Personalized Care Act of 2019 (S. 3112), which would expand HSAs to pay for direct primary care, health sharing ministries, in­surance premiums and medi­cations.

• Enact the “Protecting Se­niors Through Immunization Act of 2019” (H.R. 5076) which would eliminate out-of-pocket vaccine costs for Medi­care beneficiaries.

Improve Social Security during the coming recovery.

AMAC Actions advocates several Social Security poli­cies to help seniors:

• Guarantee a minimum So­cial Security COLA for 2021 and beyond, based on MAGI to ensure the lower income beneficiaries with greater need are helped, not by a one-size-fits-all CPI formula.

• Enact the bipartisan Senior Citizens Tax Elimination Act (H.R. 3971) to eliminate the unjust double-tax on middle-income seniors’ Social Secu­rity benefits.

• Protect Social Security benefits from federal govern­mental garnishment.

Protect small businesses and their employees.

More than 1.5 million of the 6.5 million of the new busi­nesses created each year are started by seniors. Congress should act to:

• Ensure seniors are not locked out of SBA programs providing quick and easy ac­cess to credit, debt forbearance and targeted debt forgiveness.

• Protect at-risk seniors who are still working and who want to return to work by help­ing small businesses to afford personal protective equipment.

• Delay tax filing until mid-October, which would allow small businesses a cash cushion during these fragile months.

For more stories like this, see the May 20 issue or subscribe online.

By Bob Carlstrom, president of AMAC Action, the advocacy affili­ate of the 2.1 million-member Asso­ciation of Mature American Citizens

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