Older Americans Act
As the population of older adults continues to grow, programs that keep seniors healthy, active, and engaged in their communities are even more important.
The Older Americans Act (OAA) is a cornerstone of our nation’s commitment to seniors. In 2016, I helped pass a bipartisan reauthorization of the OAA. This law will support programs like Meals on Wheels for the next three years, and it will also provide additional resources. The OAA strengthens protections against elder abuse, improves nutrition services, and updates the Family Caregiver Support Program. Increasing investments in programs that support older adults helps them stay in their homes where they can remain connected to their communities and avoid costlier long-term care.
For the millions of Americans without retirement savings, the future can be uncertain. In the 21st century economy, more workers switch jobs frequently and they are less likely to be covered by a traditional employer-sponsored retirement savings plan.
Oregon is a national leader in helping workers save for retirement and transfer their retirement savings from job to job. I’ve introduced the American Savings Account Act to provide American workers with a new tool to help them save for a strong and secure retirement. Modeled after similar programs in Oregon and California, the legislation would provide every American worker with access to a personal, pre-tax retirement savings plan. Senator Merkley introduced the Senate version of the Act, which is designed to help working families around the country be more secure in their retirement by giving them the tools necessary to invest in their future regardless of where they work.
Social Security and Medicare
Social Security and Medicare are essential programs that provide financial security and allow older adults to age with dignity. Economic challenges are not an excuse to dismantle, privatize, or compromise these critical programs. The Social Security trust fund is solvent, and we must keep our promise to seniors by making sure it remains that way. There are sensible reforms that can be made to strengthen these programs while protecting and preserving Medicare and Social Security for current and future recipients. For example, I support raising the limit on income that is taxed for Social Security. I have cosponsored the Social Security 2100 Act, which would require our country’s highest wage earners—those making more than $400,000 per year—to contribute more to the program.
Cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) to Social Security payments are essential for making sure that beneficiaries can live their lives without the risk of falling into poverty. In the past few years, however, COLAs have been relatively small. In 2016, there was no increase in payments. I understand how difficult it can be to pay for prescription medications, housing, and other expenses when Social Security payments don’t keep pace with rising costs. I support tying future COLAs to the Consumer Price Index for the elderly (CPI-E), an index that more accurately measures the expenses of older adults.
Rising prescription drug costs are a burden for many Americans, particularly seniors. We have made some progress with the passage of the Affordable Care Act, which made prescription drug coverage more affordable for many by reducing the gap in Medicare Part D known as the “donut hole.” However, more must be done to keep up with increasing costs. I have cosponsored the Prescription Drug Affordability Act, legislation that would allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices and provide better prescription drug coverage. I will continue working to make prescription drugs more accessible and affordable.
More on Seniors
Diabetes medications in Oregon costs twice as much as in Canada — and more than four times as much as in Australia — according to a new report for Congress from the House Oversight and Reform Committee. It compares the prices for 50 brand-name diabetes drugs in Oregon to those in other developed countries. It found Medicare beneficiaries in Oregon pay more than $1,000 more per year for insulin.
The Washington County commissioner and former Hillsboro mayor keynoted the county's Veterans Day ceremony.
The father of U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici of Beaverton also served in the Navy.
"I want to assure everyone that this is a coincidence," she said as the audience laughed.
Bonamici quoted from a 1963 Veterans Day proclamation by President John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated just 11 days later, that the day is meant to honor men and women who have served in war and who also seek peace with "patience, perseverance and courage."
Many organizations representing the interests of older adults were thrilled with the U.S. House’s passage Monday of HR 4334, the Dignity in Aging Act of 2019, which reauthorizes the Older Americans Act. The leadership of Oregon Rep. Suzanne Bonamici on behalf of this bill was distinct and decisive. She chaired the subcommittee that produced the bill. Further, she ensured two things about the legislation and the process: It would be bipartisan and involve input from stakeholders.
Bills that would reauthorize the Older Americans Act and improve improve education and training in geriatrics passed in the House of Representatives on Monday. They now move to the Senate for consideration.
Oregonians who signed up for the Public Service Student Loan Forgiveness program are finding it's not very forgiving.
Tens of thousands of students nationwide took advantage of the government program but only about one percent have been approved to have their loans forgiven.
Bonamici said, "People across Oregon and our country took jobs in public service and planned their lives around it, only to discover it was an empty promise. It’s been devastating to so many people."
U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici says the current impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump may draw most of the public's attention, but the House is working on other issues affecting people's lives.
As an example, Bonamici said, a House subcommittee she leads has produced a bill (HR 4334) to extend federal spending authority under the Older Americans Act, which was originally passed in 1965.
As Democrats in the House of Representatives begin an impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump, Western Washington County residents packed the Cornelius Public Library on Wednesday, Oct. 2, to ask questions of U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici.
Multiple people asked Bonamici about the topic that has recently dominated national news: impeachment.
"We have a responsibility to hold this administration accountable," Bonamici said.