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.
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More on Seniors
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.
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.
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.
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.
Washington, D.C. – Today, Rep. Ron Kind voted for the bipartisan Delivering for America Act amid concerns that organizational and operational changes at the United States Postal Service (USPS) have resulted in mail delays across the country, including for seniors, veterans, and rural communities.
La Crosse, WI – Yesterday, Rep. Ron Kind sent a letter to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Peter Gaynor and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar urging them to work swiftly to provide appropriate PPE to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities in Wisconsin.
La Crosse, WI— Today, Rep. Ron Kind, along with Reps. Dan Kildee, Michael C. Burgess, and Fred Upton, introduced bipartisan legislation to provide additional resources for nursing homes to enhance quality of care and safety measures during the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure nursing homes are prepared for future public health crises. The Infection Control Training and Support Act would provide an additional $210 million for quality and infection control support for nursing homes.
Washington, DC—Moments ago, Rep. Ron Kind voted to pass the bipartisan Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which establishes paid leave, provides free coronavirus testing, protects frontline health workers, distributes additional funding to states for the ongoing economic consequences of the pandemic, and other actions. Included in the package is Rep.
Washington, DC—This morning, Reps. Ron Kind (WI-03), Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44), and Lori Trahan (MA-03) introduced legislation that will make testing for coronavirus (COVID-19) free for seniors who receive coverage through Medicare Advantage.
Washington, DC— Rep. Ron Kind released the following statement after attending the President’s State of the Union address tonight:
“America is at its best when we work together, across party lines to get things done. I’m proud to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to make prescription drugs more affordable, lower health care costs, invest in our country’s infrastructure, and increase access to affordable, high-speed internet for rural areas.