Legislative News … Daniel Nnorth and Claudia Schott

On the Federal level, HR 1230 POWADA (Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act) – passed the House. We need to thank our Federal Representatives for voting in favor of it.  Our Representatives, Khanna and Lofgren, should be thanked for their leadership by co-sponsoring HR 1230 along with 90 other Representatives.  We appreciate their support for all of our older workers.  Now onto the Senate.  The bill has been referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. We need to let our Senators know how we feel as soon as it comes out of the committee!  Keep an eye on it.  The committee has some good Senators on it, including Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT), Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT).

Our State Senators have also been busy, HOWEVER, SB 50 – Planning & Zoning – Housing Development (addressing affordable housing concerns, especially for older adults) failed on the Senate floor.  We still need to thank our Senators, Beall & Monning, for their Aye vote and hard work in trying to get it passed and let them know we hope we can count on their continued support on this issue in the future.

With the latest criticism of President Trump’s policy on the coronavirus, all I can say is, stay healthy out there!  (And Happy St Patrick’s Day!)  We will have more news in April, now that the sessions are all under way and getting some steam up!

Legislative News … Daniel Nnorth and Claudia Schott

We have been doing great using our voices and sharing our personal stories with elected officials to help AARP continue our important work serving older adults.  There are two calls to action at the Federal level awaiting our help:

HR 1230 POWADA (Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act) — Please call our Senators to ask them to vote “aye” on this bill.  This one passed the House and went to the senate on the 16th of January and is now in the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

Don’t forget to urge Senators Feinstein and Harris to vote on HR 3 and encourage their Senate colleagues to also support HR 3 with an “aye” vote.  The Lower Drug Costs Now Act passed the House in December and now rests in the Senate’s hands.  Help make sure this passes!

On the State level, advocacy focus right now remains on the Master Plan for Aging.  If you haven’t done this so far, please access the MPS site and submit your ideas and feedback.  There is an upgraded website for the MPS:  engageCA.org.

Now that both Congress and the State Legislature are back from their recesses, we shall have lots more to talk about in the coming months.  That’s all for now.  Happy Valentine’s Day.

Legislative News … Daniel Nnorth and Claudia Schott

Our action this month is to THANK our members of Congress for having voted in favor of HR 3, The Lower Drug Costs Now Act.  All of our local members of Congress (Representatives Anna Eshoo 408-245-2339, Ro Khanna 408-436-2720, Zoe Lofgren 408-271-8700) voted in favor of this bill.  We need to make sure that they know we are happy they voted in favor of it.

Since Congress is still on winter break until sometime in January, there is no new news, except the impeachment of the President by the House of Representatives on the 18th of December.  Now it goes to the Senate for the trial.

Speaking of which, the schedule for days in session for January and early February is predictably in flux because, absent an agreement, the Senate could convene six days a week for the duration of an impeachment trial against President Donald Trump.  The President has asked for an immediate trial.  The accusations of abuse of power and obstruction will be heard at that time.  Even though the House is Democrat led, the Senate is controlled by Republicans.

On that note, keep an eye on the trial; it should be very interesting.  Have a great new year!

Legislative News … Daniel Nnorth and Claudia Schott

This month, we are asked to place comments on the weengAGE portal for the Master Plan for Aging.  We can insert comments and receive updates through the link below.  We can also share the link with our networks.  Please, if you have time, complete and share the Master Plan on Aging Survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/MPAPledge

Congress is at recess, as is the State Legislature and we won’t hear from either until after the new year.  In the meantime here are just a few tidbits:  The following bills were introduced just after Congress returned from their previous break and were written to enhance the Older Americans Act of 1965.  Although AARP has not had a chance to weigh in on these, they would be interesting to follow.

Representative David Trone (D-MD) introduced H.R. 4859, Protecting Older Americans From Social Isolation Act of 2019 on 10/24/2019, which, when passed, will set up an advisory committee to determine and develop objectives, priorities, and a long-term plan for supporting State and local efforts involving education about, prevention of, detection of, and response to negative health effects associated with social isolation among older individuals.

Representative Charlie Crist (D-FL) introduced H.R. 4827, the Building Age-Friendly Communities Act on 10/23/2019. This would support the ability of older individuals to age in place, including through the provision of homelessness prevention services, support the ability of older individuals to access preventive health care, promote age-friendly communities, and address the ability of older individuals to access long-term care support, including access to caregivers and home- and community-based services.

Back in September Representative Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) introduced H.R. 4334, the Dignity in Aging Act of 2019, a very lengthy and thorough bill, that establishes, reauthorizes, and revises several programs administered by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Labor relating to care for the elderly.

Among other things, the bill reauthorizes through FY2024, and revises, programs that support:

  • caregivers of the elderly; community and workforce training regarding elder care;
  • informational services, such as pension counseling;
  • nutritional services, such as meal delivery;
  • disease prevention and health promotion services; and abuse and neglect prevention services.

The bill also establishes several entities and programs to further support elder care, including initiatives that aim to promote independent living and reduce social isolation for the elderly.  This bill passed the House on October 30. Now it’s in the Senate…..after the winter break! 

                                                                           Happy Holidays, everyone!

Legislative News…Daniel Nnorth and Claudia Schott

The CA Legislature is adjourned until January 6, 2020.  We are happy to let you know that AB 824 and AB 1118 were both signed by the Governor!  California drug manufacturers will no longer be able to pay for the delay of the development and/or research for generic prescription drugs, and California becomes the first state to have enacted a statewide law that enrolls California in the Age-Friendly Network.  Your hard work led to our success, and we appreciate your constant visits to your district offices to make this happen!

Urge your Member of Congress to support measures in Congress designed to reduce the cost of prescription drugs, including HR 3.  AARP has endorsed H.R. 3, the Lower Drug Costs Now Act when it was introduced in the House last month.  The bill’s key provisions would allow Medicare to negotiate on behalf of the more than 40 million beneficiaries in Part D.  The federal government should be leveraging that bargaining power to lower prices.  The bill also includes an out-of-pocket cap for costs in Medicare Part D. In 2015 alone, Medicare beneficiaries spent $27 billion in out-of-pocket drug costs. 

Older American’s Act ReauthorizationHR 4334:  Older Americans Act (OAA) programs provide home-delivered meals, help at home, family caregiver support, transportation services, training and employment programs to help keep older adults in their homes and communities, where they want to be, and out of generally more costly care.

*    AARP is calling for funding at levels that will meet the needs of the growing older population.  Over the years, funding has not kept pace with the growth in the older population.

*    Urge your Member of Congress to support HR 4334.

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.