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Strengthening Medicare Through Health Care Reform

As part of health care reform, I was committed to making sure that we fixed what’s broken in the health care system and strengthened what’s working. For 46 years, Medicare has provided critical health care and financial stability for seniors and people with disabilities – and it’s working for seniors in western and central Wisconsin. Under health care reform, Medicare was strengthened and improved by:

  • Immediately lowering prescription drug costs for the 8,800 seniors in western Wisconsin stuck in the ‘donut hole’ and ultimately closes it altogether by 2020. The bill provides a $250 rebate to Medicare beneficiaries who hit the donut hole in 2010. Drug manufacturers started providing 50% discount on brand-name drugs in the donut hole.
  • Eliminating Medicare co-payments for preventive care so that seniors will pay nothing on recommended preventive services that will keep them healthier longer. It also limited cost-sharing requirements in Medicare Advantage plans to the amount charged for the same services in traditional Medicare coverage and improved payment accuracy to ensure that Medicare pays the right amount for health services.
  • Fighting waste, fraud and abuse in the system by strengthening existing enforcement and compliance tools and eliminating overpayments to providers. New penalties were created for submitting false data on applications, false claims for payment, or for obstructing audits or investigations related to Medicare or Medicaid.

Medicare is an important program that is working for our seniors. I supported health care reform because it strengthens and improves this vital program and protects it for years to come. Reform also ensures the sustainability of our health care system and provides stable, affordable, high-quality health care to all Americans.

Protecting Social Security

As a member of the Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over Social Security, I am committed to finding responsible solutions to address the long-term financing challenges facing the program. I know we can find a way to ensure Social Security remains strong for today’s seniors while making sure future generations can rely on it too. As part of my commitment to protect its solvency, I strongly oppose privatizing Social Security because it would rob money from the system that is needed to pay benefits for today’s seniors. We cannot leave the emergency retirement money of our nation to be subject to the ups and downs of the stock market.

In 2005, when some members of Congress tried to privatize the program, I fought hard to save Social Security from this effort to destroy it, putting our seniors’ financial security at risk. When the stock market plunged and the housing bubble burst, there was one thing America’s seniors could count on - Social Security. There are those in Congress today that are again threatening to privatize Social Security. We cannot allow that to happen. I have fought to keep Social Security strong for today’s seniors and generations to come.

According to the Social Security and Medicare Board of Trustees, Social Security has enough money to pay 100% of benefits for decades to come through payroll taxes and the Trust Fund. During the decades before Social Security's finances reach a critical point, I believe the Social Security Trust Fund surplus should be reserved for Social Security payments alone. Protecting the Social Security surplus from being raided for other spending will protect the program and prevent us from having to increase the deficit to make sure seniors get the benefits they’ve earned.

Economic Stability for Seniors

Seniors, like so many Americans, are struggling at this time and are worried about the present and future. I am working every day on behalf of the seniors in western Wisconsin to rebuild our economy and protect the programs most important to them. We’re making tough choices to turn this country around and put us on a path towards shared prosperity for generations to come.

Protecting seniors and their income from financial frauds and schemes so they have money for the things they need is also critical.  That’s why I supported new and tougher regulations on the banking industry through the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act which bans unfair rate increases and forbids the abusive fees and penalties that credit card companies have inflicted on America’s seniors.

For more information concerning work and views related to Seniors, please contact our office.

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More on Seniors

March 25, 2021 Press Release

La Crosse, WI – Earlier this month, Rep. Ron Kind voted to pass the landmark American Rescue Plan, which was signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 11, 2021. Today, Rep. Kind is highlighting the critical resources that Wisconsin families and communities will receive to help crush the COVID-19 virus and build back stronger than ever.   

March 10, 2021 Press Release

Washington, DC — Today, Rep. Ron Kind voted to pass the American Rescue Plan to provide long-awaited relief to Wisconsinites, help schools safely reopen, ramp up vaccine deployment, and get our economy back on track. The package now heads to the President’s desk for his signature.    

March 4, 2021 Press Release

Washington, DC – Today, Reps. Ron Kind (D-WI)Tom Reed (R-NY), Raul Ruiz, M.D. (D-CA), and Brad Wenstrup, D.P.M. (R-OH) introduced the bipartisan Treat and Reduce Obesity Act. This legislation will help address the obesity epidemic and reduce health care costs by expanding access to treatment options for Medicare beneficiaries affected by obesity.   

February 11, 2021 Press Release

Washington, DC —Today, Rep. Ron Kind and the Ways and Means Committee took steps to deliver much needed relief to the American people amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic crisis it has caused. The legislative proposals passed by the Ways and Means Committee today spanned issues from extending unemployment insurance to delivering another round of direct assistance for Wisconsinites to expanding the child tax credit.   

February 10, 2021 Press Release

Washington, DC —This week Rep. Ron Kind will introduce the Infection Control Training and Support Act, legislation that would provide an additional $200 million for quality and infection control support for skilled nursing facilities.

December 22, 2020 Press Release

Washington, DC —Last night, Rep. Ron Kind voted to support the year-end package that included a number of priorities he has worked on for Wisconsin families.     

October 16, 2020 Press Release

La Crosse – Today, Rep. Ron Kind introduced the bipartisan Savings for All Vocations Enhancement (SAVE) Act. This bill will increase access to retirement savings for employees of nonprofit organizations that utilize 403(b) employer-provided retirement plans, incentivize S-Corporation businesses to convert to an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) structure, and correct overly harsh individual retirement account (IRA) penalties bringing them in line with those of 401(k)s. The SAVE Act was introduced with Reps.

October 1, 2020 Press Release

Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Ron Kind voted for the updated Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act. This legislation would provide relief to Wisconsinites as the COVID-19 crisis continues and includes support for small businesses, assistance for industries hit especially hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, an additional round of $1,200 stimulus checks for taxpayers and $500 for dependents, restored weekly unemployment benefits, and expanded funding for education and child care.

September 9, 2020 Press Release

La Crosse, WI – Today, Rep. Ron Kind announced his support for the Protecting Access to Post-COVID-19 Telehealth Act, bipartisan legislation that will expand and improve Wisconsinites’ access to telehealth services under Medicare. This bill will continue the expanded use of telehealth beyond the COVID-19 crisis by eliminating restrictions on its use in Medicare, providing a bridge for patients currently using these services due to the pandemic and requiring a study on the use of telehealth during COVID-19.

September 4, 2020 Press Release

La Crosse, WI – Today, Rep. Ron Kind and several colleagues serving on the Ways and Means Committee introduced legislation to preserve Social Security for Wisconsin seniors and generations to come. This bill would overturn the executive action President Trump signed on August 8, 2020 to defer the payroll tax - the main source of funding for Social Security.