Monday, April 15, 2024

RPEC Weekly NewsFlash, March 22, 2024

RPEC Weekly NewsFlash, March 22, 2024

Call to Action: Please Take Action Today on H.R. 5779

Concerns are escalating about the Fiscal Commission Act (H.R. 5779), which is poised for a House vote. This legislation will form a 16-member fiscal commission that will recommend spending cuts to balance the federal budget and reduce the debt ceiling. Since January, RPEC has been sharing information in the weekly NewsFlash emails about the concerning features of this bill. Now, AFSCME Retirees and the American Alliance for Retired Americans are calling on us to act now to stop the progression of this bill. Based on public comments rendered by House Speaker Mike Johnson, Social Security and Medicare funding will likely be targeted for cuts by the fiscal commission if the legislation is approved by Congress.

Here are two ways you can communicate your opposition to this bill:

  • Sign onto this letter. The letter is being sent by all AFSCME Retirees chapter members to your representatives in Congress. The sign-on process takes less than 1 minute to complete.
  • Call 1-844-331-0441. Tell Congress to vote NO on the Fiscal Commission Bill (H.R. 5779) and to oppose any legislation on fiscal commissions. This call will take only a few minutes of your time.

This bill continues to be on AFSCME Retiree’s high priority watchlist as budget negotiations intensify in March to secure approval of a final budget bill that will fund the federal government through fiscal year 2024 (October 1, 2023 through September 30, 2024).

Our strength is in our numbers. Your federal elected officials will take notice of your concerns as voting constituents. Thank you for taking time out of your day to take action. Stay tuned for the latest news on this bill and other state and federal advocacy issues through the weekly NewsFlash.

Public Employees Benefits Board Meeting Recap

Yesterday, the Public Employees Benefits Board (PEBB) met to discuss a wide range of topics of interest to both active employees and public sector retirees.  You can read the entire briefing packet from the meeting here.

The Health Care Authority (HCA) provided an informative presentation about the pharmacy provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act. This presentation was provided because if PEBB votes in April to change the pharmacy benefit for Uniform Medical Plan (UMP) Classic Medicare, the provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act will apply to UMP Classic Medicare subscribers. Click here to review the Power Point presentation. Some of the key highlights of this legislation include:

  • Restructuring the Plan D benefit.
  • Capping out-of-pocket pharmacy costs at $2,000 in 2025.
  • Enabling the federal government to negotiate drug prices with manufacturers to increase prescription affordability for seniors.
  • Limiting manufacturers’ ability to increase drug prices at a higher rate of inflation.
  • Capping insulin cost share at $35 per month.

HCA staff also gave a thorough presentation about the proposed new pharmacy benefit for UMP Classic Medicare. You can review the Power Point here. RPEC’s Legislative Committee endorsed the proposed new pharmacy benefit, as a strategy for reducing the overall monthly premium costs for subscribers of this plan. By making this plan more affordable, the new benefit, if adopted in April by the PEB Board, will help to ensure that an employer-managed plan remains in the mix of healthcare plan options available to public sector retirees. Currently, all but two plans are privatized. Preserving traditional Medicare continues to be a key federal priority for RPEC, in addition to preserving these options for the public sector retirees in Washington.

The PEB Board will take action on the proposed new pharmacy benefit on April 11. The agenda and meeting materials will be available here.

Plans to Strengthen Social Security

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has been facing budgetary and staffing issues for the last decade. In 2011, caps were placed on discretionary funding for the SSA, which has contributed to these problems. The number of Social Security beneficiaries has increased drastically which has led to backlogging and customer service challenges.

How does this affect you and your social security?

You can learn more by attending a virtual discussion, Humanizing the Social Security Administration’s Administrative Budget, hosted by the National Academy of Social Insurance on March 26th from 9:00 am – 10:15 am PT (live captioning provided).

Engaging in this discussion are leading experts and stakeholders from the Social Security Administration (SSA), the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), the University of Chicago, and the Arc of the United States.

The panelists will discuss how to ensure that administrative funding can fulfill the promises of Social Security benefits for the American people. Other discussions include how these challenges affect disabled and aging communities, what the implications are for the President’s Fiscal Year 2025 budget proposal, insight from research regarding the impacts of the pandemic on SSA customer service, and more.

Register to attend here: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_yFWNG9PJTzivk_UXODDGnA#/registration

Upcoming Events:

Please refer to our calendar page for more information for each event, including links to Zoom meetings, if available.

  • April 2 – PSARA & Social Security Works Webinar (5:00 pm)
  • April 5 – Legislative Update Call (2:00 pm)
  • April 11 – Public Employees Benefits Board (9:00 am)
  • April 11 – Healthcare Workgroup (3:30 pm)
  • April 12 – Legislative Committee Meeting (10:00 am)
  • April 16 – Select Committee on Pension Policy (10:00 am)
  • April 19 – Pension Policy Workgroup (10:00 am)
  • April 25 – Membership Committee Meeting (10:00 am)
  • April 25 – Healthcare Workgroup (3:30 pm)

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