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SPEAKERS BUREAU-coming soon

Courtesy of The Villages Chapter NRLN

WATCH THIS SPACE FOR MORE TO COME

To book a presentation contact Jim Bodenner at bodennerj@gmail.com

Presentations on topics of interest to retirees in The Villages, such as:

  • Mental Health Care for Seniors in The Villages.
  • Best Deal: Original Medicare or Medicare Advantage Plans?
  • Healthcare for Military Retirees in The Villages.

(Additional programs under development)

See How Your FL Senators and Representative
Voted on Legislation For Seniors

Senate and House Companion Bills that the NRLN Supports in this 116th Congress
Yes = they are co-sponsoring this bill; or No = uncertain or against. Note: Click a bill description to see a brief explanation. To see the bill, all co-sponsors and a full explanation go to www.congress.gov and enter bill #.

Senate Bill # Sen. Rubio Sen. Scott House Bill# FL11Rep. Webster

NRLN Villages Chapter Updates

Villagers Learned What Is Happening to Medicare & Medicare Advantage

Bill Kadereit, President, National Retiree Legislative Network (NRLN) explained to Villagers on May 23 at the meeting of the NRLN Villages Chapter how Medicare Advantage plans are being used to speed Medicare toward privatization. Below are Talking Points on this issue. Click here to view the slides from the presentation. Click here to read the NRLN whitepaper on this issue.

MEDICARE ADVANTAGE PLANS – SPEEDING TOWARD PRIVATIZATION $350 BILLION WASTED ON SUBSIDIES TO PRIVATE INSURERS

Talking Points

The Congressional and Executive branches have been on a 35-year flight from budgetary accountability for funding our Medicare program to what they have been convinced is the best solution, privatizing Medicare. This flight reveals that so far over $350 billion of federal taxpayer money has been paid to insurance companies, wasted on subsidization of private insurers for selling Medicare Advantage (MA) plans.

In 2018 Congress amended the “Bi-Partisan Budget Act of 2018” (BPBA), and thus delivered a low blow that confirms our assertion and declares Congresses’ and the White House’s intentions to privatize Medicare. The BPBA created benefits and the Center for Medicare Services (CMS) authorized MA plans to spend $16.5 billion more in 2019 and 2020 for MA plan benefits available to 34% (20 million) enrolled in MA plans but NOT for 66% (38.8 million) enrolled in traditional Medicare A&B plans. MA enrollees with asthma will get home care but traditional A & B enrollees won’t!

Clearly, based on the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) October 5, 2017 analysis, privatization will not lower the cost of health care, instead it will shift 18% of the federal tax burden and health care costs to seniors while protecting the health care provider and pharmaceutical industries.

MedPAC, the independent congressional agency created by Congress to advise them on issues affecting the Medicare program, reported on March 15, 2019…“We project the base benchmarks (that is, excluding quality bonuses) will average 103 percent of traditional Medicare Fee for Service (FFS) spending, and the payments, excluding, quality bonuses (and coding differences), will average 98 percent of FFS spending in 2019.” According to MedPAC bonuses would add about 2.4 percent to the 98 percent.

This report said benchmarks without quality bonuses added would average 103 percent in 2019. MA plans are more expensive per enrollee than traditional Medicare.

So, why not fix traditional Medicare, strip out the cost of subsidies? Health and Human Services (HHS) is wasting taxpayer’s money and cheating over-age 65 Americans.

FEDERAL SUBSIDIES PAID TO MA PLAN INSURERS ARE UNWARRANTED!

THEY SHOULD BE STRIPPED OUT NOW RATHER THAN LATER WHEN INSURERS WILL BE ABLE TO INCREASE PREMIUMS, DUDUCTIBLES AND COINSURANCE AT WILL IN ORDER TO MAINTAIN THEIR 5% + PROFIT MARGIN!

MA private insurer plans carry a 12-15% overhead and profit burdens and have failed to compete without federal subsidies. Traditional Medicare has a much lower 3% overhead burden. MedPAC reported that MA plan insurers made a 5% margin in 2016, twice the average of Medicare plans overall. That’s 25% better than the healthcare industry’s 4% margin reported by Standard and Poor’s.

The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) data from 2017 records indicate that Medicare A & B payments to MA plan enrollees were 9.9% higher than payments made to traditional Medicare (FFS) enrollees. It is time to derail Medicare privatization.

Strip subsidies and then determine if private insurers can offer a better deal or not, on a level playing field. Current data says not! Are they competitive with Medicare FFS or not? If not, dump them and go after FFS cost reduction; take on doctor and hospital costs, Pharma, product manufacturers and others – install an across the board competitive bidding discipline and toughness that has always been needed.

The NRLN Asks Congress and the Executive Branch to:


House Passes Three Drug Bills NRLN Supported

The U.S. House of Representatives passed on May 16 three prescription drug bills supported by the National Retiree Legislative Network (NRLN). The bills passed were:

H.R. 1499, Protecting Consumer Access to Generic Drugs Act of 2019, is intended to prohibit the practice of “pay-for-delay,” in which brand name drug companies compensate generic drug makers to delay the entry of lower price generic drugs into the market. H.R. 1499 creates a civil penalty to further discourage “pay-for-delay” agreements between name brand drug companies and generic drug makers. According to a Federal Trade Commission, these anti-competitive deals cost Americas $3.5 billion annually in higher drug prices.

H.R. 965, CREATES Act (Creating and Restoring Equal Access to Equivalent Samples Act) targets abusive delay tactics used by brand-name pharmaceutical companies to block market entry of more affordable generic drugs. H.R. 965 is intended to provide an efficient path for generic drug manufacturers to obtain samples of the branded product so the generic company can perform the testing necessary to show that its product is equivalent to the brand-name product. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the CREATES Act will result in a $3.9 billion net decrease in the federal deficit over 10 years. Savings to consumers and private insurers likely would be far greater.

H.R. 938, BLOCKING Act of 2019 (Bringing Low-Cost Options and Competition while Keeping Incentives for New Generics Act of 2019) would increase competition in the generic drug market. Current law awards 180 days of exclusivity on the market to a drug manufacturer when it is the first to file a generic drug application with the FDA for a drug for which there is no generic. The 180 days begins once the manufacturer starts marketing the drug, but some manufacturers “park” the exclusivity before receiving final approval, blocking competition for more than the 180 days intended by the law. H. R. 938 would stop first generic drug “parking”.

The NRLN was the first retirees’ advocacy organization back in 2009 to lobby for legislation to prohibit “pay-for-delay” and other cost saving actions, including allow Medicare to do competitive bidding for prescription drugs and the importation of lower price drugs that meet the FDA safety standards.

Our most recent effort to end pay-for-delay was the NRLN’s Legislative Action Planning Committee’s (LAPC) request that I write a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi requesting that she call for votes of H.R. 1499 and H.R. 938. Alyson Parker, NRLN Executive Director, emailed my May 8, 2019 letter for Speaker Pelosi to Wendal Primus, Senior Health Policy Adviser to Speaker Pelosi, who has been heading House Democrat negotiations on prescription drug bills.

Alyson, Ed Beltram, NRLN VP – Communications, and I met with Mr. Primus during our February fly-in to Washington, DC. We presented our prescription drugs whitepaper and expressed our alarm that Medicare Advantage plans provided by private insurers are receiving taxpayer subsidies to provide benefits that participants in traditional Medicare do not receive. We oppose this effort by Congress to privatize Medicare.

On March 7, 2019, at the LAPC’s request, I sent a letter to Representative Frank Pallone (NJ-06) Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee to request that he call for a committee vote on H.R. 965. All three prescription drug bills passed by the House came out of Chairman Pallone’s committee.

Passage of the three prescription drug bills were consolidated into H.R. 987, Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act. The bill also included measures to strengthen the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Some Republican House members who voted against the bill have been quoted in news articles that they believe H.R. 987 will not be passed in the Senate, where the Republicans have a majority, because of the ACA provisions included in the bill.

The NRLN will monitor the bill in the Senate and, if necessary, issue an Action Alert in an effort to support the prescription drug price reductions.

Most NRLN members probably are aware that the NRLN is an advocate for reducing the cost of prescription drugs. However, you are probably not aware of how far back our lobbying on this issue goes. On July 22, 2009, I sent a letter to Peter R. Orszag, who was White House Budget Director during the first term of President Obama. The letter, in part, stated:

I believe that Americans could be provided with immediate health care savings if the White House would urge Congress to enact legislation to:

  1. Allow the full importation of safe, less expensive prescription drugs from countries certified by the Federal Drug Administration.
  2. Adequately fund the FDA to properly oversee prescription drug imports.
  3. Sufficiently staff the FDA to reduce the backlog of generic drugs and streamline the process to bring generic drugs to the market in a timelier manner, and fund these activities through fees from the drug companies.
  4. Implement competitive bidding for prescription drugs by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, including establishing a national formulary. Competitive bidding has proven to be very cost-effective for participants in the Veterans Administration health care program and it can achieve similar results for the CMS.
  5. Advise President Obama to direct the Attorney General to take legal action against drug companies that collude verbally or by contract to control pricing or subvert free market practices by paying off generic manufacturers for withholding the introduction of generic drugs until brand name patents expire or for any other reason, a.k.a. “pay-for-delay or “reverse payments” deals.
  6. Ask the Congressional Budget Office to conduct a study to determine the cost savings to be gained from these actions.

The NRLN will continue to lobby for legislation to reduce the cost of prescription drugs because on it is important to our members and all Americans.


NEWS FOR THE VILLAGES MEMBERS


Don't Slash Medicare In Last-Minute Budget Agreement
From Sally Pipes; Forbes ~ Jul 20, 2019

As pensions fail, Congress ponders, and career savings evaporate
By Laura Olson; The Morning Call ~ Jul 20, 2019

Common Medications Can Masquerade As Dementia In Seniors
By Judith Graham; Kaiser Health News ~ Jul 18, 2019


Trump’s DOL Pick Fought Fiduciary Rule
By Ross Snel; Barron’s ~ Jul 19, 2019

Democratic chair: Medicare negotiating drug prices not moving before August
By Peter Sullivan; The Hill ~ Jul 16, 2019

Insurers Running Medicare Advantage Plans Overbill Taxpayers By Billions As Feds Struggle To Stop It
By Fred Schulte & Lauren Weber; Kaiser Health News ~ Jul 16, 2019

Supreme Court takes fiduciary case for overfunded DB plan
By Hazel Bradford; Pensions & Investments ~ Jul 16, 2019

Republicans make U-turn on health care
By Alexander Bolton; The Hill ~ Jul 14, 2019

Why Is Healthcare So Expensive for Retirees?
By Maurie Backman; The Motley Fool ~ Jul 13, 2019

Opinion: Trump Scraps A Reform That Would Have Saved Patients Billions
From Sally Pipes; Forbes ~ Jul 12, 2019

PBMs Breathe Sigh Of Relief As Trump Kills Drug Rebate Proposal And Pharma Companies Become Next Likely Target
Via KHN Morning Briefing; Kaiser Health News ~ Jul 12, 2019

Medicare Must Keep A Closer Eye On Hospices And Nursing Homes That Put Patients At Risk
From Howard Gleckman; Forbes ~ Jul 12, 2019

Grassley: Deal to lower drug prices moving forward 'very soon'
By Peter Sullivan; The Hill ~ Jul 11, 2019

For Big Pharma, the revolving door keeps spinning
From Karen Hobert Flynn; The Hill ~ Jul 11, 2019

Trump signs executive order aimed at improving kidney disease treatment
By Jessie Hellmann; The Hill ~ Jul 10, 2019

Taking the 'surprise' out of medical billing

House committee OKs multiemployer pension reform bill
By Hazel Bradford; Pensions & Investments ~ Jul 10, 2019

Trump misleadingly says prescription drug prices have gone down
By Zack Budryk; The Hill ~ Jul 07, 2019

Congress has ambitious agenda tackling health care costs
By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar; The Associated Press ~ Jul 07, 2019

Trump Plans Executive Order To Lower Drug Prices
By Rachel Stoltzfoos; The Daily Caller ~ Jul 05, 2019

Generics more expensive than branded drugs on Part D, study says
By Robert King; FierceHealthcare ~ Jul 03, 2019

Drug prices in 2019 are surging, with hikes at 5 times inflation
By Aimee Picchi; CBS News ~ Jul 01, 2019

Trump has blessed states’ exploration of importing drugs. Will it catch on?
By Phil Galewitz, KHN; FierceHealthcare ~ Jul 01, 2019

Drug prices persistently rising despite Trump efforts
By Sarah Owermohle; Politico ~ Jul 01, 2019

Nancy Pelosi’s latest Medicare proposal would pass drug discounts to all consumers
By Berkeley Lovelace Jr. ; CNBC ~ Jul 01, 2019

Pelosi Aims For Feds To Negotiate Drug Prices, Even For Private Insurers
By Emmarie Huetteman; Kaiser Health News ~ Jun 28, 2019

Supreme Court to decide if DB participants can sue when plan is not underfunded
By Hazel Bradford; Pensions & Investments ~ Jun 28, 2019

The Future of Retirement Legislation After SECURE
From Brian Menickella; Forbes ~ Jun 28, 2019

Opinion: You better plan for a smaller Social Security check
From Paul Brandus; MarketWatch ~ Jun 28, 2019

House Votes to Derail SEC Advice Package
By Ross Snel; Barron’s ~ Jun 27, 2019

Senate Health Committee advances bipartisan package to lower health costs
By Peter Sullivan; The Hill ~ Jun 26, 2019

Lawmakers map out path forward on Medicare Part D
By Julia Manchester; The Hill ~ Jun 25, 2019

Trump’s Executive Order To Increase Transparency For Health Care Costs May Seem Intuitive, But Research Suggests It Could Backfire
Via KHN Morning Briefing; Kaiser Health News ~ Jun 25, 2019

Social Security Is Mailing Out Incorrect Benefit Statements
From Laurence Kotlikoff; Forbes ~ Jun 25, 2019

The U.S. Gets Hundreds of Millions From Big Pharma in Co-Pay Settlements
By Bill Alpert; Barron’s ~ Jun 24, 2019

Setting the record straight on 5 Social Security myths
From Liz Weston; MarketWatch ~ Jun 24, 2019

Big Pharma' is the big winner of the USMCA
From Veronika J. Wirtz, Warren A. Kaplan & Kevin Gallagher; The Hill ~ Jun 23, 2019

What's the Difference Between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage Plans?
By Kailey Fralick; The Motley Fool ~ Jun 22, 2019

HHS's ideas for rearranging Medicare would raise costs for seniors
From Peter Pitts; The Hill ~ Jun 18, 2019

Senators Agree Surprise Medical Bills Must Go. But How?
By Rachel Bluth; Kaiser Health News ~ Jun 18, 2019

Patent settlements, not lawsuits, are lowering drug costs
From Michael Busler; The Hill ~ Jun 20, 2019

Drug Prices And Innovation
From Standish Fleming; Forbes ~ Jun 20, 2019


Click here to view previous issues of The Villages Chapter Report

Villages Chapter Report – June 2019

Advisory Committee Formed for NRLN Villages Chapter

In June, NRLN President Bill Kadereit worked with residents of The Villages to form a 10-member NRLN Villages Chapter Advisory Committee. One of the first actions by the committee was an update of the NRLN Villages Chapter webpage. There is a new webpage header and the “News for the Villages Members” is receiving postings of links to news articles of interest to retirees and future retirees. The committee is working on the creation of a Speakers Bureau that will offer clubs in The Villages speakers on issues such as Health Care, Medicare, Social Security, Pensions and other subjects.

Kadereit is hosting twice a month conference calls with committee members to work on the Speakers Bureau, enhancing communications with Chapter members and growing the Chapter’s membership. If you have an interest in working with the committee, send an email to president@nrln.org.

The Villages Democrats Club Adds Link to NRLN Website

Following the January 12th presentation to The Villages Democrats Club by NRLN President Bill Kadereit on Medicare Advantage Plans – Speeding Toward Privatization, an agreement was reached for the club to place a link on its website home page (www.thevillagesdemocrats.org) to the NRLN website (www.nrln.org) . As a nonpartisan organization, the NRLN is available to work with other political groups to provide access to information on issues the NRLN is advocating with Congress and the Administration. Contact the NRLN with email to contact@nrln.org or call toll free 866-360-7197.

NRLN Supports Legislation for Gold Star Families

While the mission of the NRLN is to represent the interest of retirees and future retirees on income security and health care, NRLN President Bill Kadereit sent letters on June 7, 2019 to the chairman and ranking member of the House Committee on Ways and Means to urge a vote on H.R. 2481, Gold Star Family Tax Relief Act, because many NRLN members have children and grandchildren serving in the U.S. Military.

The Gold Star Family Tax Relief Act, which was passed on a bipartisan vote on S.1370 in the Senate on May 21, 2019, would provide tax relief for children receiving benefits who have lost a parent serving in the military. This legislation fixes an unintended tax problem by classifying survivor benefits as earned income, significantly reducing the tax burden.

The NRLN is also supporting HR1994, Setting Every Community Up for the Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019. The bill would provide incentives for employers who do not offer pension plans to offer retirement savings plans. It has a provision that would reverse a tax provision that caused military survivor benefits and other unearned income received by children to be taxed at rates of as much as 37%.

NRLN Action Alert on Improving HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act

An NRLN Action Alert was issued on June 5 to request NRLN members email the NRLN sample letter to their U.S. Senators and Representatives to urge them to support passage of Improving Health Outcomes, Planning and Education (HOPE) for Alzheimer’s Act. The bill requires the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to conduct outreach to make more health care providers aware that comprehensive care planning services are available under Medicare for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Passage of the will bill ensure that more families are able to take advantage of this benefit so they can better prepare for the challenges that an Alzheimer’s diagnosis brings. If you have not responded to the Action Alert, go to: www.nrln.org/SE.html#/ and click on the Take Action icon.

In addition to the Action Alert that was emailed to NRLN members, it was also posted on facebook and instagram and tweeted.

NRLN Continues Support for Multiemployer Pension Bill

In a posting on facebook on June 12, the NRLN announced that the Rehabilitation for Multiemployer Pensions Act (H.R. 397) that the NRLN has supported was passed on June 11, by the House Committee of Education and Labor. Since the vote was bipartisan, it is an optimistic sign that the House will pass the bill.

Although the majority of NRLN members who have a pension, or will have when they retire, have single employer pensions, a sizable number of our members are under multiemployer pension plans.

Through no fault of their own millions of retirees, such as truck drivers, ironworkers, construction workers, coal miners, etc., receiving (or who were receiving) monthly pension checks and workers with future vested pension rights are facing the devastating predicament of their multiemployer pensions having been suspended, severely reduced or on the verge of being suspended.

The NRLN supported H.R. 397 because it would create the Pension Rehabilitation Administration (PRA), a new agency within the Department of the Treasury, authorized to issue bonds in order to finance loans to “critical and declining” multiemployer pension plans, plans that have suspended benefits, and some recently insolvent plans currently receiving financial assistance from the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. The PBGC has a strong asset base to cover insolvency for single employer plans.

The NRLN believe the proposed legislation is not a bailout because it would require paying back the loans received from the PRA. The federal government is backstopping the risk. It is important that H.R. 397 does not allow for any cuts to the benefits retirees and workers have earned through their years of employment.


The NRLN and AREF Partnership

The National Retiree Legislative Network (NRLN) created the American Retirees Education Foundation (AREF) in 2014 to develop whitepapers and advocate policy recommendations for retirement security to federal policymakers, constituency groups, the media, and the general public. The AREF, an IRS 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization, researches and produces whitepapers and other materials and can use them to educate NRLN members and other advocates on how to present legislative proposals.

The AREF can advocate proposals to members of Congress and federal agencies but once a proposal is introduced as a bill, only the NRLN, an IRS 501(c)4 non-exempt organization, can lobby for passage of a bill. The AREF can advocate but not lobby. This allows members to make tax-deductible donations that are accounted for separately from NRLN contributions. To learn more about the AREF and NRLN go to www.seniorsaref.org and www.nrln.org.

NRLN and AREF Revenue

Seventy-five percent of NRLN revenue comes from non-deductible individual contributions. The other twenty-five percent of NRLN revenue comes from company retiree association dues paid to the NRLN.  NRLN Chapters are supported by a portion of contributions made by Chapter members. For individual contributions to the NRLN go to http://www.nrln.org/JoinUs.htm. Either click on the link to printout the contributions form and mail it with a check or click on the link to make a credit card contribution.

All AREF revenue comes from individual tax-deductible donations. A donation to the AREF may be made by going to the AREF website at www.seniorsaref.org and clicking on the “Donations” tab.

The NRLN annual solicitation to NRLN Villages Chapter members will be in late October 2019.  However, anyone can make voluntary non-deductible contributions to the NRLN or tax-deductible donations to the AREF at any time. 

  Suggestions and comments about this website should be addressed to webmaster@nrln.org. Last updated: July 21, 2019