Making the Most of the Congressional Recess
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Making the Most of the Congressional Recess


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When Congress is on recess, most lawmakers return to their home states to connect with their constituents.

That makes recesses a great opportunity to invite your members of Congress to an event, set up a meeting at their local office, attend a town hall event, or find other personal ways to deliver your messages about the issues facing your organization and the seniors you serve.

Find Local Congressional Events:

Summer 2013 Recess: Aug. 3-Sept. 8

This summer, Congress will be heading home for the month of August through Labor Day. Below are some of the key issues on the docket when they return, along with suggested messages that you can deliver and tips on how to connect with your lawmakers.

Key Issues:

Older Americans Act (OAA) Funding & Reauthorization

Congress will return in September to face big decisions on funding levels for federal government programs, including the OAA.

NCOA's goal is to both protect and strengthen the OAA, which provides funding for critical senior services such as meals, transportation, and caregiver support.

The Senate Appropriations Committee has passed a bill that would restore OAA funding to levels before the sequester took effect. However, the House is unlikely to do the same.

The OAA also is overdue for reauthorization. Sen. Sanders (I-VT) has introduced a reauthorization bill (S. 1028) that includes many priorities NCOA has been fighting for, such as economic security, chronic disease management, falls prevention, senior center modernization, and elder justice.

The recess is a perfect time to educate policymakers, as well as seniors and their families, about the importance of OAA programs and what’s at stake. Tell the story of OAA services in your community and/or deliver the suggested messages below.

Suggested messages:

  1. End the sequester and invest in Older Americans Act programs.
    1. OAA programs are critical to helping seniors stay healthy and independent in their own homes.
    2. OAA funding has not kept pace with inflation or the rising demand for services. 
    3. Sequester cuts have dealt another devastating blow—resulting in growing waiting lists or denial of services for seniors in need.
    4. Please support the Senate Labor-HHS appropriations bill that reverses sequester cuts for OAA programs this year, as well as proposals to eliminate the sequester entirely.

  2. Reauthorize the Older Americans Act this year.
    1. The OAA funds critical services that help seniors stay healthy and independent in their own homes.
    2. The law was scheduled to be reauthorized two years ago and needs to be updated to reflect the changing needs of the growing senior population and to promote innovation.
    3. Please support S. 1028, the Older Americans Act Amendments of 2013, which strengthens the OAA for seniors today and tomorrow.

Medicare Physician Payments & Low-Income Protections

Since 2002, Congress has faced a deadline every December: If it does not act, Medicare physicians face steep and automatic cuts to their reimbursement.

Because a permanent fix to this problem was very costly, Congress has extended it on a year-to-year basis. At the same time, it has included extensions for the Qualified Individual (QI) program, a key protection that helps nearly half a million low-income Medicare beneficiaries pay their Part B premium.

This year, bipartisan support is growing to pass a permanent fix to the Medicare physician payment issue. NCOA and other senior groups are urging Congress to reject attempts to pay for the fix by shifting more costs onto beneficiaries and to also pass a permanent fixto the QI program to protect older adults and people with disabilities in need.

If Congress fails to act by Dec. 31, Medicare physician payments will be cut by about 25% and the QI program will expire. 

Suggested messages:

  1. Pass a permanent fix to Medicare physician payments—without shifting even more costs onto beneficiaries.
    1. Please support a permanent fix that does not shift costs onto Medicare beneficiaries, half of whom live on annual incomes of $22,500 or less.
    2. Beneficiaries already spend a great deal out-of-pocket on health care and are unable to afford even higher costs.
    3. Increasing reimbursement to doctors should not be paid for on the backs of seniors.

  2. Make the Qualified Income program permanent for low-income Medicare beneficiaries.
    1. Half a million poor Medicare beneficiaries rely on the QI program to help pay their Part B premiums.
    2. Without QI assistance, these beneficiaries would be forced to spend  $104.90 per month on Part B premiums they cannot afford or lose their Part B coverage for doctor visits.
    3. Please make the QI program permanent to provide security and stability to low-income older Americans.

How to Connect with Your Lawmakers

Use these tips and tools to meet with your members of Congress while they're home on recess.

If you meet with your member of Congress, please take a moment to tell us what happened, so we can better track our advocacy efforts.



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