Advocacy Toolkit: Recess 2019


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 it a great opportunity to invite your members of Congress to an event or site visit, set up a meeting at their local office, attend their town hall, or find other personal ways to deliver your message about the issues facing older adults in your community.

2019 Recesses

  • Sept. 28-Oct. 14
  • Nov. 1-11: House recess
  • Nov. 23-Dec. 1 (House recess also Nov. 22 & Dec. 2)

5 Steps to Connect with Your Lawmakers

  1. Find your legislators’ contact information using our Action Center.
  2. Prepare for an in-person meeting or host a site visit with your legislator.
  3. Attend a town hall meeting if there’s one in your area.
  4. Get prepared with our Advocacy Toolkit.
  5. Tell us how it went. Your response will help us track our advocacy efforts.

Talking Points: MIPPA Extension

The challenge: Federal outreach and enrollment efforts, originally authorized under the 2008 Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act (MIPPA), enable many of our nation’s most vulnerable, low-income Medicare beneficiaries to access assistance for prescription drug coverage and other essential health programs for which they are eligible. Additional, permanent funding would enable community organizations to dedicate sufficient resources and staff to these important efforts.

Current status: The House Ways and Means Committee approved legislation on June 26 that would increase overall funding for low-income Medicare benefits outreach and enrollment to $50 million and extend it through 2022.

Key messages and learn more: Review the Improving Medicare Low-Income Beneficiary Enrollment issue brief and action alert.

Talking Points: FY20 Appropriations

The challenge: The Administration’s budget request for FY20 reiterates many of the cuts and eliminations proposed for FY19 for programs that older adults and their families rely on.

Current status: The House passed five FY20 appropriations bills on June 19, including the Labor-HHS-Education bill that funds Older Americans Act programs and many other aging services. Significant increases are proposed for many of our key priorities. The Senate Appropriations Committee has released its Labor-HHS bill, but it’s not clear when it will be marked up or brought to the floor. A continuing resolution (CR) is providing funding through November 21.

Key messages and learn more:  Visit our Federal Budget page and review our Investing in Aging Services issue brief, as well as program-specific issue briefs. You can also take action with our alert.

Talking Points: OAA Reauthorization

The challenge: Older Americans Act (OAA) reauthorization provides an opportunity to update and modernize the Act to better serve the rapidly growing number and diversity of older adults, and enhance the ability of the Aging Services Network to address the pressing challenges of seniors in need, including various social determinants of health.

Current status: The House Education and Labor Committee approved bipartisan legislation on September 18 which addresses NCOA’s reauthorization priorities. The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee is still negotiating a bipartisan bill.

Key messages and learn more: Visit our OAA Reauthorization page, review our issue brief, and use our action alert.

Talking Points: Money Follows the Person (MFP)

The challenge: Enacted in 2005 with strong bipartisan support, Money Follows the Person (MFP) has helped over 75,000 the lives of older adults and people with disabilities while assisting states with moving away from funding nursing homes in favor of more cost-effective home and community-based services. Unfortunately, MFP will expire at the end of the year unless Congress takes action.

Current status: Sens. Portman (R-OH) and Cantwell (D-WA), and Reps. Guthrie (R-KY) and Dingell (D-MI) introduced bipartisan legislation, The EMPOWER Care Act (S. 548 / H.R, 1342), to improve and extend the program for five years. H.R. 3253, the Empowering Beneficiaries, Ensuring Access, and Strengthening Accountability Act, signed into law on August 6, extends the program through calendar year 2019.

Key messages and learn more: Review our Improve Access to Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services issue brief to learn more about this issue and why you should thank Congress for supporting MFP extension and continue to urge for a long-term solution.

Talking Points: Prescription Drug Pricing and Part D Reform

The challenge: Prescription drug affordability is an ongoing challenge for Medicare beneficiaries. These older adults and people with disabilities struggle to cover their drug costs and obtain needed medications. Bicameral, bipartisan discussions are underway in Congress to address prescription drug costs, and NCOA and other national aging organizations are calling for Part D reforms in this debate. Key priorities include establishing an out-of-pocket cap; strengthening and improving access to the Part D Extra Help Low-Income Subsidy (LIS); streamlining Medicare Part D coverage determinations and appeals; and providing pricing stability.

Current status: The Senate Finance Committee marked up S. 2543, the Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act Of 2019, on July 25. The House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing on H.R. 3, The Lower Drug Costs Now Act, on September 25.

Key messages and learn more: Review our Making Prescription Drugs More Affordable for Medicare Beneficiaries issue brief and joint letter to the Senate Finance Committee.

Remember to Say Thanks

If you are able to meet with your members of Congress, don’t forget to send a thank you. It’s an important way to build the relationship. Send a traditional thank you letter through the mail and express your appreciation in a public way through social media.

Then Share It!

Sharing your advocacy efforts will encourage others to join in the effort. Tweet a photo from your meeting or post a recap on Facebook. Be sure to mention the member of Congress in the post to publicly recognize their willingness to learn more about their senior constituents.

If you have any questions or comments, please contact the NCOA Public Policy & Advocacy team.