It is about midway through the first month of the new year and Congress has passed a budget to fund the government until the end of the fiscal year. Now Congress can turn their attention to other priorities. It appears that earmarks, the wasteful line item spending priorities that members of Congress like to add into spending bills may make an ugly return. There are also other major policy issues that voters and particularly seniors may be interested in that will be coming down the pike this year. Our Generation has polled our membership and found out that 71 percent are satisfied with the benefits that they currently receive through Medicare. The Hill, has done the work for me and written up what some to the big issues in Congress are likely to be. Among the issues that seniors may be interested in are crime and Medicare legislation. As The Hill noted:
“Crime: Prominent members of the congressional left and right, . . . have been collaborating on sweeping legislation to reduce federal criminal penalties, partly by ending mandatory minimum sentences for some drug offenses.
Medicare: April 1 is the next deadline for addressing one of the most nettlesome problems Congress has recently created for itself: The 1997 formula for increasingly steep cuts in payments to physicians for treating Medicare patients.
Tired of making an annual patch that eases or eliminates the cuts — the “doc fix” — senior members of both parties, along with the relevant house and Senate committees, have reached agreement that it’s time to eliminate the problem altogether. And their determination to do so has grown so acute that it’s very possible they’ll be willing to find reductions elsewhere in the Medicare program to offset the cost. Working in their favor: For a variety of reasons, the cost of abandoning the 17-year-old formula has itself gone down to a politically palatable $12 billion a year.”
Stay tuned, because this is shaping up to be an interesting year.