Pandemic ‘Ratchets Up’ Need for Long-Sought Improvements
As Congress prepares to construct a fourth stimulus package, a leading seniors’ advocacy group is calling for more to be done to help older Americans survive the COVID-19 pandemic, both physically and financially. The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare has sent a letter imploring members of the U.S. House and Senate not to forget seniors as they craft new Coronavirus relief legislation. While previous stimulus bills were a good start, Congress must now boost Social Security benefits and expand Medicare and Medicaid services that will help older citizens and their families to withstand this crisis.
“We have been aggressively working to improve seniors’ programs for many years, but the pandemic has ratcheted their needs to the top of the list. Older Americans are among the most vulnerable to the ravages of COVID-19. Their struggles are significantly aggravated by the crisis. It makes sense to expand and protect the health and income security for older citizens, who in turn contribute so much to the economy and our quality of life.” – Max Richtman, president and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare
The National Committee urges Congress to enact several measures to defend seniors’ financial and health security, including:
Increase by $250 the monthly benefit for all Social Security, Veterans, and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries through the end of 2021.
Enact the improvements in Rep. John Larson’s Emergency Social Security Benefits Act, including an increase in widows’ and widowers’ benefits for lower-and-middle-income beneficiaries, and raising the threshold for the minimum benefit to 125% of the federal poverty line.
Create a new Medicaid grant for states to boost their home and community-based long-term care services.
Appropriate an additional $400 million for the Social Security Administration’s operating budget to help the agency cope with the increase in coronavirus-related claims, including expected survivors’ benefit applications.
Extend the 90-day prescription refill rule applied to Medicare in the CARES Act to all patients.
Several other proposals to fortify seniors’ health and long term care are included in the National Committee’s letter to Congress, which demand lawmakers’ attention as they devise Coronavirus relief for Americans of all ages.