Legislative News … Daniel Nnorth and Claudia Schott

The State Budget was signed on June 27 and included the Caregiver Resource Centers budget ask of $30 million over 3 years, and funding for the $1 million Long-Term Services and Supports (LTSS) Feasibility Study.  Thank you for your support of these priority budget asks!

Our next state legislative priority is AB 824 (Wood). This one is about the delaying tactics for getting generic drugs out on the market.  Most of us live in District 15 (Santa Clara County, etc). Since AB 824 is in the Senate now, we need to make sure that our State Senator Jim Beale is on the ball and supports this piece of legislature, too.  If you know anyone in San Mateo County (District 13), please have them call their State Senator Jerry Hill and urge him to support AB 824.  Don’t forget to call State Senator Bill Monning (District 17 – Monterey, etc) – please call his office to thank him for supporting AB 824.

When you call your State Senator, you can share these points with the staff person you speak to:

  • AARP in California has specific legislation to stop pay-to-delay practices – AB 824 (Wood).
  • Currently, brand-name manufacturers are paying generic drug manufacturers not to introduce generic versions of popular medications to the public.  By doing so, drug companies are engaging in anti-competitive behavior and can continue to charge outrageous prices for their brand-name drugs even after their patents have expired.
  • This practice is reprehensible, and AB 824 will put an end to it.
  • AB 824 will preserve access to affordable drugs by making it unlawful for generic and brand-name drug manufacturers to enter into these pay-for-delay agreements.

Legislative News … Daniel Nnorth and Claudia Schott

It looks as if President Trump wants to revamp or overthrow Obamacare again. He mentioned mid-June that he would unveil a new healthcare plan this month that would be “something terrific”. According to Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), “The American people already know exactly what the President’s health care plans mean in their lives: higher costs, worse coverage and the end of lifesaving protections for people with pre-existing conditions.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) mentioned that “we’re looking forward to seeing what he’s going to recommend.” We’re thinking a wait-and-see attitude is best……

On the State front: Since AB 824 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee sometime in early July, Chapter members should contact Senator Bill Monning the first week in July at the earliest and let him know what we want. AB 824 is a model bill and California is leading the nation to stop pay-to- delay practices that enable brand-name drug companies to maintain high prices by delaying the sale of lower-cost generics. Americans pay the highest drug prices in the world. In 2006, the annual cost of brand name drugs was $1,868; in 2017, it went up to $6,798 (an increase of over 360%). Drug prices continue to skyrocket while seniors struggle to afford Medicare and more than 2/3 of seniors have two or more concurrent chronic illnesses. The average beneficiary has a medium annual income of just $26,000; many older Californians must choose between prescriptions and buying groceries. Please ask our Senators to vote YES on AB 824.

AB 1366 – Please contact Senator Beall or Monning and ask them to OPPOSE this harmful bill. Internet companies that provide Voice-Over-Internet telephone service should be required to offer the SAME consumer protections that traditional landline telephone services must offer. VOIP companies are trying to AVOID oversight by the California Public Utilities Commission. That means that millions of Californians, many of them over 50, would have unregulated phone and internet service, which means higher rates for the people who can least afford it. Ask our Senators to please vote NO on AB 1366.

Please contact your state Assembly member (Pan, Kaira) to ask for their support of SB 512 (Long-Term Supports & Services). If you live in Assembly member Kalra’s district, call him to thank him for his leadership on this issue. AARP is a member of the California Aging & Disability Alliance, which is sponsoring SB 512. Research has shown that LTSS costs more than most Californians can afford. This bill will address this issue. Toward that end, AARP is hoping we can share a personal caregiving story – time, expenses, sacrifices, etc., with the Assembly members in hopes of garnering their support for this bill.

Legislative News … Daniel Nnorth and Claudia Schott

The state legislature is in the process of figuring out and passing/not passing the new 2019-2020 budget, so we won’t be hearing from them for another month. But they need to hear from us!

Please call your State Assembly member and your State Senator and ask them to support the following:

Assembly Bill 824 — In an attempt to tackle drug costs, Assemblyman Jim Wood, D-Santa Rosa, and Attorney General Xavier Becerra have introduced this bill to protect generic drugs from litigation as they head to market. This bill would shield generic drugs from so-called “pay-for-delay” litigation from brand-name drug manufacturers.

Actuarial Study Funding for Long-Term Services and Supports (LTSS) – $1,000,000 — The study would help in the creation of a new long-term services and supports (LTSS) financing program that would meet the needs of California’s growing population of older adults and persons living with disabilities.

Caregiver Resource Centers Funding – $30 million — One-time budget request over three years to support the statewide Caregiver Resource Centers system: During the recession, funding for the Caregiver Resource Centers was cut by 74%;; and as a result, there are now waitlists for caregivers seeking respite care. According to AARP data, approximately 4.5 million family caregivers in California provide care to an adult, many of whom are still working full-time jobs.

On the Federal side, we ask you contact your member of Congress (Lofgren, Eshoo or Khanna, depending on where you reside) and ask them to support the same initiatives as in May, if you haven’t done so already. Please call, write, email — just make sure they know these issues are what matter!

Lowering Prescription Drug Prices: CREATES Act of 2019”, or H.R. 965 (Rep David Ciciline, D-RI), and our right to access lower priced generic drugs, “Protecting Consumer Access to Generic Drugs Act of 2019”, or H.R. 1499 (Rep Robert Rush, D-IL).

Age-Discrimination Initiative: H.R.1230 (Rep Robert Scott, D-VA) and S. 485 (Sen Robert Casey, D-PA), the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act (POWADA).

Medical-Expense Deduction: H.R.2073 (Rep Katie Porter, D-CA), a bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to permanently extend the 7.5 percent adjusted gross income floor for medical-expense deductions.

Legislative News … Daniel Nnorth and Claudia Schott

This month, we have three points on which AARP would like us to take a stand.  The first one is about prescription drug prices and there are two bills, one being the “Creating and Restoring Equal Access to Equivalent Samples Act of 2019” or the “CREATES Act of 2019”, or H.R. 965 (Rep David Ciciline, D-RI) and the other is “Protecting Consumer Access to Generic Drugs Act of 2019”, or H.R. 1499 (Rep Robert Rush, D-IL).  AARP has started a campaign to let Representatives know this is what we want and we need.  AARP is asking us to help by talking to our Representatives.  Be sure to ask them if they are willing to co-sponsor and support either of these bills.

AARP and our 38 million members across the country are taking on the drug companies in Washington and every state with TV, digital and radio advertising, grassroots action, social media, events, and more.  This is important for us.  This is not just the two bills in Congress, but a fight for our ability to continue to afford our medications

The second point is age discrimination.  This is a fight to be able to work and have the same rights as younger workers, basically, fairness for all workers, regardless of age.  AARP fully supports H.R.1230 (Rep Robert Scott, D-VA) and S.B. 485 (Sen Robert Casey, D-PA), the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act (POWADA), a bipartisan bill.  These bills would restore our ability to fight against age discrimination by making age just a factor, not the primary factor of the discrimination.  Again, AARP is asking us to talk to our Representatives and Senators to cosponsor and support these bills.

The last point for us to make a stand is H.R.2073 (Rep Katie Porter, D-CA), a bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to permanently extend the 7.5 percent adjusted gross income floor for the medical expense deduction.  AARP is supporting the bill because it would to keep the threshold for the deduction as low as possible to help protect people with high medical costs.  We need to call our representatives to get them to cosponsor and support this bill.

We need to take a stand on these issues to protect our rights, our way of life and our ability to afford it.

Happy Mother’s Day to all who are mothers and have mothers!

Happy Memorial Day to one and all!  All gave some, some gave all.  In remembrance of those who gave all.

Legislative News … Daniel North and Claudia Schott

Now that the government shutdown is at a “strategic pause,” we have work to do. AARP is urging us to continue asking our members of Congress to work in a bipartisan manner to protect SNAP and reject creating additional program barriers for individuals and families struggling with food insecurity. Basically, don’t let us go hungry.

You can get more information about CalFresh, the state program that is part of SNAP, that provides fresh food to low-income households, including seniors. This is one of the programs that will be affected. For more information about CalFresh, either call 1-877-847-3663 or you can go online to http://www.cdss.ca.gov/food-nutrition/calfresh or http://www.cdss.ca.gov/inforesources/CalFresh  You can view a PDF of the CalFresh brochure at CalFresh_Senior_Bro_Eng.pdf or https://211sandiego.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/CalFresh_Senior_Bro_Eng.pdf sorry about all the webpages, everyone, but I can’t give you all a hardcopy of the brochures. You better hurry and give our Senators what for!

Of course, the “strategic pause” is only good until February 15th. If President Trump and Congress can’t come to a reasonable compromise, the shutdown will continue. As Trump’s approval rating continues to plummet, many Democrats are putting their names into the hat, including our very own Senator, Kamala Harris, and none other than Elizabeth Warren, an astute and incisive critic of the president.

“Harris believes that the time is now for us all to defend the American values of equality, decency, justice, and democracy — and her candidacy will be animated by her life’s work of fighting ‘for the people,’” according to a statement.

The list of possible Democratic candidates for the presidency is very long, senators from Hawaii to New Hampshire are adding their names. This looks to be a very interesting election. (But then, aren’t they all?)

Legislative News…Daniel North and Claudia Schoff

AARP has a voter engagement campaign titled “Be the Difference. Vote”. If you haven’t already, please commit to voting on November 6th by signing our voters’ pledge and visit

https://action.aarp.org/site/SPageNavigator/2018_Voter_Pledge.html. We want to raise the voice and share the importance of the 50+ voter. We want voters to ask important questions to the candidates around issues impacting the 50+ community.

Before you cast your vote on Nov. 6, make sure you know where candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Senate and presidency stand on these three issues:

  1. How would you protect Social Security for today’s seniors and strengthen it for future generations?
  2. How would you put Medicare on stronger financial ground and protect today’s seniors and future retirees from the

    burden of rising health costs?

  3. How would you help Americans build a financial nest egg for their retirement?

Know your candidates! Candidates’ Websites:

Governor
Gavin Newsom (D) – http://www.gavinnewsom.com

John Cox (R) – http://johncoxforgovernor.com

Lt. Gov.
Edward Hernandez (D) – https://www.edhernandez4ca.com/

Eleni Kounalakis (D) – http://www.eleniforca.com

Senate
Dianne Feinstein (D) – https://feinsteinforca.com
Kevin de León (D) – https://www.kevindeleon.com

House
District 14
Cristina Osmeña (R) – https://www.osmenaforcongress.com/

Jackie Speier (D) – http://jackieforcongress.com/
District 15
Eric Swalwell (D) – http://www.swalwellforcongress.com

Rudy Peters (R) – https://www.rudypetersforcongress.com/
District 16
Elizabeth Heng (R) – https://elizabethheng.com/
Jim Costa (D) – http://www.jimcosta.com/
District 17
Ro Khanna (D) – http://www.rokhanna.com/
Ron Cohen (R) – http://www.roncohen4congress2018.com/
District 18
Anna Eshoo (D) – http://www.annaeshoo4congress.com/

Christine Russell (R) – No site
District 19
Justin Aguilera (R) – No site
Zoe Lofgren (D) – http://www.lofgrenforcongress.com

Don’t forget to pledge to vote on the AARP site and please vote! Make your voice heard.

Legislative News…Daniel North and Claudia Schott

The House Ways and Means Committee said it would continue exploring ways to reduce regulations in Medicare, after issuing a report last week on its conversations with health care providers. “The Medicare program has reached the threshold where the regulatory burdens placed on health care providers are now coming at the expense of patient care — we cannot allow this to continue,” Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chairman Peter Roskam of Illinois said. Although light on specifics, the report highlighted areas where providers indicated they need more flexibility, including in anti-kickback laws, conditions of participation for hospitals, and administrative tasks such as billing and data reporting.

Of particular concern to both the committee and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is the so-called Stark law, which limits how and when physicians can refer patients to other entities in which they share a financial interest. The law is widely considered outdated as the industry shifts to value-based care, which requires close financial relationships between various providers.

“The Committee’s work is not complete,” the Ways and Means report stated. “The health care landscape is constantly changing, which will require policymakers to continuously weigh the impacts to the provider community, and most important of all, the impact on patient care.”

Here’s hoping this easing of regulations happens soon enough that we may all get better and faster access to decent patient care!

Legislative Report … Daniel Nnorth and Claudia Schott

Now that the House has passed their version of the Farm Bill, it has quite a few stipulations that aren’t sitting well with anyone in the Senate……bipartisan negotiations fell apart in the House as Republicans embraced food stamp work requirements bitterly opposed by House Democrats and Senators. Under the controversial House food stamp plan, most adults would have to spend 20 hours per week either working or participating in a state-run training program to receive benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which provides an average payment of $125 per month to 42.3 million Americans. I wonder if this includes Senior Citizens….? It’s not like we aren’t already working and can’t make ends meet. So, if you don’t work, you don’t eat? What if you CAN’T work? (FYI, there already is a sensible program in place, helping people get training and finding work. It just doesn’t take food stamps away if we aren’t working.)
Now Republicans on the House Agriculture Committee are adding a different “work requirement” to SNAP. In fact, the legislation would deny food assistance to the unemployed. People who through no fault of their own could not find work, or enough hours of work, would become ineligible for the program. They would miss out not only on a paycheck but on food too.
“The things that they have in [the Farm Bill] are mostly to hassle people that are on SNAP. That’s really what it’s about,” Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., top Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, said. House Democrats and Senators in both parties have vowed to vote against a plan some say will unfairly increase red tape for low-income Americans.
But House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway, R-Texas, said he would defend the provisions during conference committee negotiations, arguing it would be bad politics in an election year for lawmakers to oppose changes aimed at moving people into the workforce.
There is a sense of urgency here. Both versions of the Farm Bill need to be compromised on and renegotiated into one bill to pass both Houses by September. Then it still needs to go to the president to sign. If the new bill does not go into effect by September 30th, and the old law is not extended, a lot of programs will lose their funding, including SNAP. So right now we are all holding our collective breath: farmers, ranchers and food stamp recipients, while the good Representatives of our United States duke it out, street brawl style, most likely. It had already come to that when someone included the family separation controversy…As it stands right now, the two versions of the bill are so far apart in ideology, that any compromise is seemingly unattainable.

Legislative Report…Daniel Nnorth and Claudia Schott

With the budget deadline (June 15) fast approaching, AARP’s top priority budget request is on the line. The LTSS Data Collection and Analysis budget request, which would appropriate funds to the Department of Health Care Services for the purpose of contracting with UCLA for collection and analysis of data on LTSS access and needs in California by incorporating questions from the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) in the 2019-20 and 2023-24 survey cycles. A portion of these costs can be covered by federal Medicaid matching funds.

We are being asked to contact our Assembly member or Senator to vote in favor of the LTSS Data Ask when it comes up for a vote during the week of June 11. If any of us have Assembly member Kalra as their Assembly member (San Jose) a simple thank you will do. He is the Assembly Sponsor of this budget request.

We talked about this in April. Because of the shifting demographic (more of us oldsters and persons with physical and developmental disabilities as well as those with traumatic injuries who are surviving longer due to advances in medical care.), California needs to collect this data so it can accurately assess our needs and budget accordingly.

As far as the Farm bill is concerned, we still have our work cut out on that. Congress did vote it down……this time. However certain members are planning on a new vote…..soooo, we need to call, write or email our Representatives and demand, ask, cajole, request, enjoin, urge, whatever it takes, in order for our SNAP program to stay in place!