Legislative News … Daniel Nnorth and Claudia Schott

This is the month for email writing! We have the following three email campaigns that AARP would like us to take part in:

1.  AB 824, “to stop pay-to-delay practices” on drug prices, was amended again on the 13th of September, and AARP still supports the bill.  To learn more, visit states.aarp.org/California/AB824.  Please consider sending an email or letter to the Governor’s office.

2.  AB 1366, preventing the CPUC from performing its oversight role for VOIP and IP-enabled phone services, has been shelved, but only for this year. We will continue to work on OPPOSING this bill into 2020. This is a good time to send an email to our senators to let them know, we don’t want this one to pass!  We want the CPUC to perform oversight!

3.  AB 1118, which would establish California as an Age-Friendly State and requires the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research to include the 8 domains of livability developed by the World Health Organization to be included as recommendations in the next update of the State General Planning Guidelines.  This bill has been sent to the Governor’s desk for his signature.  Please consider sending him an email or letter as soon as possible urging him to sign AB 1118 into law.

Master Plan on Aging

Finally, the Governor’s Master Plan on Aging process kicked off on September 17.  Nina Weiler-Harwell, Ph.D. | AARP California Associate State Director – Community, is on the Stakeholder Advisory Commission.  We hope that she can enlighten us as to what has been decided as they “Pledge for Action allow[ing] all Californians the opportunity to share their ideas and suggestions for how we collectively build an age-friendly California.”

Recognizing that California’s over-65 population is projected to grow to 8.6 million by 2030, Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order calling for the creation of Master Plan for Aging to be developed by October 1, 2020. The Master Plan will serve as a blueprint that can be used by state government, local communities, private organizations and philanthropy to build environments that promote an age-friendly California.  Want to read more?  https://www.chhs.ca.gov/home/master-plan-for-aging/

Legislative News … Daniel Nnorth and Claudia Schott

AARP is very happy with all its members – we have been reaching out to our federal representatives on our top issues. We should continue to do so for our own benefit. Our Senators and
Representatives literally count the calls they get on an issue, so keep it up!

We are still working on AB 824 (Wood), about getting rid of delaying tactics for getting generic drugs out on the market. Any questions? See the August newsletter for more information.

In the meantime, AARP has launched a nationwide prescription drug campaign – at the Federal and State level – to stop drug companies from price gouging Americans.

  • We are calling on Congress, the Administration and States to pass common-sense, bipartisan legislation to lower prescription drug prices now.
  • 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 issue is a top priority for older Americans and that is why we are launching this campaign.
  • The average Medicare beneficiary has a median annual income of just over $26,000 while the average Part D beneficiary is taking 4-5 prescription medications on a monthly basis.

We need to contact our members of Congress (Lofgren, Eshoo or Khanna) and Senators Feinstein and Harris to let them know we mean business. Ask them to support the CREATES Act (H.R. 965) and the federal pay-for-delay legislation (H.R. 1499).

AARP continues to fight for legislation to protect older workers from age discrimination. Congress re- introduced legislation that would give older workers the same fairness under the law as every other worker. It’s about fairness for all workers, regardless of age. AARP fully supports H.R.1230 and S.485 the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act (POWADA), a bipartisan bill. This legislation will restore older workers’ ability to fight back against age discrimination.

Again, we need to contact our Federal representatives and ask them to support and vote for H.R.1230/ S.485 to protect older workers against age discrimination.

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!