Honoring Promises to Seniors
As a doctor who’s cared for countless seniors, I’m committed to honoring the promises we’ve made to our parents and grandparents. We need to make sure our seniors can access the support and health care they need in a secure and dignified retirement.
Around Sacramento County, I’ve met with many seniors who are trying to make ends meet on fixed incomes - struggling to pay for their groceries while affording lifesaving prescription drugs. But even while facing challenges in retirement, many continue to make terrific contributions to our region through community service or by helping raise their grandkids. Our seniors are continuing to do their part after a lifetime of hard work and sacrifice. We have an obligation to be there for them, too.
Especially after paying into Social Security and Medicare throughout their working lives, today’s seniors and future generations should be able to rely on these promises when they need it. Here’s how I’m working in Congress to honor our promises to seniors:
- Helping Local Seniors:
- Protecting the Medicare Guarantee for Older Americans:
- Defending Social Security and Retirement Savings:
- Improving Health Care and Lowering Costs for Seniors:
- More on Honoring Promises to Seniors:
Making government work for you is core to my job. That means not only bringing your voice to Washington, but helping you however I can. This is why I’ve directed my office to do everything it can to help local seniors who are having issues with Medicare, Social Security, and other federal government problems. We’re also here to connect seniors with helpful local resources.
I’m pleased to share that my office has now helped Sacramento County residents recover more than $1,000,000 in backlogged Social Security and Medicare benefits that they were owed. We’ve also held local events to connect seniors with any assistance they may need.
If you or someone you know is a senior who lives in Sacramento County and is having issues with Social Security, Medicare, or another federal government problem, please contact my office for help. You can reach us at (916) 635-0505 or visit my Help for Seniors page to learn more about all the ways we can serve you.
- How I Can Help: Shellie is just one example of the hundreds of people we have helped with Social Security and Medicare problems. After Shellie’s mother was hospitalized, she decided to start caring for her mother at her home. But after several months her mother still hadn’t received any of her Social Security savings, and Shellie and her husband were forced to pay for her mother’s care out of pocket. The financial strain was so great that they were worried they could even go bankrupt.
That’s when Shellie called my office for help, and my staff got to work. A week and a half later, my office was able to help them resolve the problem, and she began to get her payments. Click below to see Shellie tell her story in own words:
- Bringing Help to Local Seniors: We’re here to bring whatever help and resources we can to Sacramento County seniors. We regularly hold office hours at area libraries so we can more conveniently serve people in their own neighborhoods. We’ve also held events to help seniors navigate Medicare open enrollment, forums on Alzheimer’s disease, and more.
You can visit my office’s Upcoming Events page to always stay updated on the latest events my office is hosting in your area.
Supporting Community Services for Seniors: In Congress, I’ve worked to support programs that provide assistance to Sacramento County seniors who need it. That’s why I supported a bipartisan bill to reauthorize the Older Americans Act, which is now law. This law ensures funding for nutrition programs such as Meals on Wheels, help for older Americans so they can continue live independently, and works to fight abuse and scams that prey on elderly Americans.
As a doctor, I cared for thousands of patients who have paid into and rely on Medicare. I know first-hand that we can reduce runaway health care costs without making dramatic cuts to Medicare that will hurt our seniors. By lowering drug costs, ending wasteful tests, and encouraging preventative care, we can safeguard Medicare for future generations. I took an oath to care for the well-being of my patients as doctor, and I’m continuing to take that the same approach as your Congressman.
- Protecting Seniors’ Access to Medicare: I was proud to help pass the historic and bipartisan Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act, which is now law. At its core, this bill fixes a broken payment system called the Sustainable Growth Rate that caused financial uncertainty in Medicare for more than a decade and forced doctors to see fewer Medicare patients. If left unaddressed, doctors would have struggled to afford to care for seniors on Medicare. Fixing this broken system was critical for protecting the Medicare guarantee for seniors.
The bill also makes further reforms to lower costs and further sustain Medicare for the future. How doctors care for seniors no longer about how many tests and procedures they order or how much they charge. Instead, success is judged by fewer repeat hospital visits, higher patient satisfaction, and fewer medical errors.
You can click below to watch me urge my colleagues support this bill:
- Preventing Medicare Premium Spikes: We need to make sure our seniors aren’t burdened with high Medicare premiums they can’t afford. That’s why I voted for the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, a two year budget agreement that is now law. This budget prevented a 52 percent spike in premiums for millions of seniors on Medicare part B.
- Opposing Reckless Plans to End the Medicare Guarantee: I’ve consistently voted against a partisan budget plan, offered by Congressman Paul Ryan, which would end the Medicare guarantee for older Americans. By turning Medicare into a voucher system, this plan would leave millions of seniors at the mercy of insurance companies and leave them unable to afford the health care they depend on. Turning Medicare into a voucher doesn’t lower costs - it just shifts the burden of paying for health care onto seniors. Our parents and grandparents did not work their whole lives, paying into a system, only to be handed a voucher that doesn't even cover the cost of their care.
- Protecting Medicare Advantage: I’ve consistently worked with people in both parties to fight against cuts to Medicare Advantage. This program has a proven track record of improving the health of patients while also bringing down costs for nearly 100,000 seniors in our area.
Keeping health care affordable for seniors on fixed incomes is one reason why I introduced the bipartisan Small Business and Family Relief Act to delay a new tax on health insurance that’s part of the Affordable Care Act. Because of how this tax is designed, independent budget experts have said that it will mean higher premiums for consumers and will disproportionately impact seniors on Medicare Advantage. I’m pleased to say that Congress passed a version of my proposal, delaying this tax for 2017, saving the average senior on Medicare $350.
I’ve also consistently worked with people in both parties to fight against cuts to Medicare Advantage since I’ve had the privilege of serving you in Congress. In one major effort, I was proud to join with 239 Members of Congress in both parties to urge the Administration to stop proposed cuts to Medicare Advantage for 2016. I’m glad to say that we were successful in protecting seniors from benefit cuts or significant price increases. I will continue to work in a bipartisan way to honor this promise that we have made to our seniors.
Social Security is one of America’s greatest achievements. It has lifted millions of seniors out of poverty and has provided a secure source of income for seniors who need it. It has continued to provide a source of stability and peace of mind for seniors after it was signed into law more than 80 years ago, even through several economic recessions. After seniors have paid into Social Security for their entire lives, we can’t threaten these savings that they have a right to depend on.
- Fighting Cuts to Social Security: In one of my first acts as your Congressman, I joined with dozens of my congressional colleagues to urge the President and congressional leaders in both parties to protect Social Security, as well as Medicare and Medicaid, from devastating budget cuts. Though we must make sure that we budget responsibly, we can’t balance our books on the backs of seniors who have paid into these programs and earned their retirement.
- Opposing Risky Privatization Schemes: Privatizing Social Security would put seniors' retirements at the mercy of the next stock market crash. Wall Street devastated our economy with their reckless bets only a few short years ago. We shouldn’t let them gamble away your hard earned retirement too. That’s why I’ve voted against efforts to privatize Social Security.
- National Strategic Agenda to Protect Social Security: I’m proud to co-chair of the Congressional Problem Solvers Caucus, the only bipartisan group of its kind in Washington. I’ve helped grow our caucus to more than 90 members of Congress, both Republicans and Democrats, and we’re committed to working together in a bipartisan way to move our nation forward.
The Problem Solvers are committed to building a new national strategic agenda with objectives that Republicans and Democrats alike can agree on. One of our primary goals is securing Social Security for the next 75 years to make sure that today’s seniors and the next generation can depend on Social Security. We need to work together to protect this promise we’ve made to our seniors as we craft future budgets.
Ensuring Impartial Retirement Savings Advice: I’ve voted to protect the retirement security of families and seniors by ensuring that financial advisors avoid conflicts of interest when advising individuals on how to best prepare for retirement.
In our economy it’s always important to save for your golden years. But oftentimes we face complicated choices on how to best prepare for our retirement – whether to invest in bonds, IRAs, stocks, or a range of other financial products. As families and seniors work to navigate these difficult financial decisions, they should feel secure in knowing that any advice they receive is unbiased and in their best interest.
Social Security Fairness Act: I am proud to support the Social Security Fairness Act to ensure that teachers and other public servants can receive the Social Security savings they’ve earned and deserve. It would eliminate the harmful Government Pension Offset (GPO) and the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) that can unfairly reduce public servants’ Social Security benefits earned from other jobs. Without the added peace of mind of the Social Security savings they’ve earned, I know that it can often be difficult for many people to get by on their pensions or savings alone.
As a doctor, I’ve cared for countless seniors and have seen the challenges they face every day. I’ve seen them struggle with the higher costs of care and prescription drugs, navigating our complex health care system, and concern about whether Medicare will be there for them over the long term. I took an oath as a doctor to do good and to do no harm, and that’s exactly the same approach I’ve taken as your Congressman to make sure our seniors have access to the best health care possible.
- Fighting for Affordable Prescription Drugs: We’ve unfortunately seen irresponsible price gouging when it comes to prescription drugs. In one dramatic instance, Turing Pharmaceutical CEO Martin Shkreli bought a lifesaving drug, he raised the price from $13.50 to $750 a pill – a more than 5,000 percent increase!
As a doctor, I find this especially troubling. That’s why I successfully urged the Food and Drug Administration to take action. In response to an effort I led, the Food and Drug Administration agreed to begin speeding up generic drugs applications, which will increase the number of drugs on the market and help lower prices. We need to make sure seniors and families have more choices and access to generic drugs to lower costs.
- Investing in Medical and Disease Research: As a former associate dean at the U.C. Davis School of Medicine, I know that medical research is critical for giving hope to patients and their families. That’s why I was proud to co-sponsor and vote for the 21st Century Cures Act, which will ensure critical investments in the next generation of scientists and cures. This bill will help ensure a substantial investment in disease research that will encourage the best and brightest scientists to find new cures by dedicating nearly $2 billion to a new Innovation Fund every year over the next 5 years. In addition it will modernize the drug development process, promote personalized cures for patients, streamline clinical trials, and incentivize development of treatments for rare diseases.
My office held a Healthy Brain Forum in conjunction with U.C. Davis on the latest developments in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease. We worked to connect local residents with resources and help who have family members that are being impacted by this terrible disease.
More on Honoring Promises to Seniors
Sacramento, CA – Congressman Ami Bera (D-CA) released the following statement on the Republican tax bill that he voted against today:
Rep. Dr. Ami Bera (D-Elk Grove) on Aug. 5 told a group of seniors at the Senior Center of Elk Grove that Medicare Advantage is superior to traditional Medicare.
Bera described Medicare Advantage – the managed care program for Medicare beneficiaries – as having much to do with prevention.
I sent an email update on Friday to share some of my responses to your letters. Join my email updates now so you don't miss any in the future!
Congressman Ami Bera, M.D. hosted and offered opening remarks during his Brain Health Forum and Community Resource Fair today at the Carmichael Public Library. He introduced guest speakers from the Alzheimer’s Association and Dr. Dan Mungas, Associate Director of the UC Davis Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center.