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How Did Congress Vote on Social Security and Health Bills?

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To get a big picture of how Social Security and Medicare bills are received in Congress, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, a group that lobbies to protect financial and health benefits of older Americans, designed a report card for each state’s U.S. congressional members.

The scorecard reports how each representative and senator in the U.S. Congress voted on bills that affect Social Security, Medicare and other retiree-focused legislation.

Most of the votes are along party lines, but when looked at in the aggregate, the scorecard provides a picture of how Congress responds, or doesn’t, on issues that affect those who claim Social Security or use Medicare, Medicaid or the Affordable Care Act.

The site offers an interactive map showing how Senate or House representatives voted in each state during the 2019-2020 sessions. Below is a key to each of the votes that were taken. Readers can either click on the map or use the full scorecard for the tabulated information.

The group looked at four votes cast in the House and three in the Senate. Here is a description of those votes:

House of Representatives Votes

Protecting Americans with Preexisting Conditions Act of 2019 (H.R. 986)

This bill passed 230-183.

Rollcall was May 9, 2019.

The bill disallowed states from offering less comprehensive Affordable Care Act marketplace insurance. According to the NCPSSM, which supported passage of the bill, it was helpful to 40% ACA of enrollees age 50-64 who might have one or more pre-existing conditions.

Status: Rejected in Senate. See S.J. Res 52 below.

Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act (H.R. 987)

Passed: 234-183.

Rollcall was May 16, 2019.

This bill reduced the cost of prescription drugs by increasing availability of generic drugs, as well as strengthened the ACA for those with pre-existing conditions. The NCPSSM supported passage.

Status: Received in the Senate on May 20, 2019, and referred to Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act (H.R. 3)

Passed: 230-192

Rollcall was Dec. 12, 2019

This bill allowed the Health and Human Services Department to negotiate prices for certain high-cost drugs with pharmaceutical manufacturers on behalf of Medicare, which was prohibited from doing so by saw. The bill created a $2,000 Medicare beneficiary annual out-of-pocket cap for spending on prescription drugs, and provided partial coverage for Medicare hearing, dental and vision services. The NCPSSM supported passage.

Status: Senate read for first time Aug. 13 and is still pending. Thus far, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to consider.

Expressing disapproval of the Trump administration’s harmful actions toward Medicaid (H.R. 826)

Passed: 223-190

Rollcall was Feb. 6, 2020

Stated that the Trump administration acted illegally when it allowed states to apply for federal Medicaid funding in the form of capped block grants. If allowed, Medicaid programs would be reduced and hurt low-income seniors. NCPSSM supported passage.

Status: Senate rejected as part of S.J. Res 52.)

Senate Votes

Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019 (H.R. 3877)

Rejected: 23-70 (overall budget bill passed)

Rollcall: Aug. 1, 2019

This bill would have limited all federal spending, including on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, through 2029. It also would ask states to ratify a “balanced budget” amendment that stated that total government expenditures, including Social Security, could not exceed total revenues taken for the same year. NCPSSM did not support passage.

Status: The above was rejected by the Senate but overall budget act, which suspended the debt ceiling through July 31, 2021, became law on Aug. 7, 2019.

Providing for congressional disapproval of health insurance coverage rule (S.J. Res. 52.) This is Senate version of HR 986 above.

Rejected: 43-52

Rollcall: May 9, 2019

This bill, which was passed in the House, would have disallowed a Health and Human Services and Treasury rule that would have allowed states to offer less comprehensive ACA packages. NCPSSM did support both the House and Senate bill.

Status: Failed in the Senate.

Labor-Health and Human Services-Education-Defense, State-Foreign Operations, and Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act, 2020 (H.R. 2740)

Rejected 51-41 (procedural vote)

Rollcall: Oct. 31, 2019

This bill, which needed a two-thirds majority to pass, was to limit debate and vote on the 2020 spending package. The increase would have been only 1%, which wouldn’t have kept pace with inflation, thus putting extra pressure on seniors. The NCPSSM did not support this bill.

Status: Did not come up for a vote in the full Senate.

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