RIFDA National Legislative Update
The following list provides an overview of the national issues that are being followed this year by several national associations. We will attempt to provides updates on these as information becomes available.
2022 Priority Issues
- Labor: Workforce Supply and Regulatory Enforcement
- Supply Chain/Transportation
- Feeding Assistance Programs: SNAP, WIC, School Lunch
- Pharmacy: PBM Reform; DIR Fees; Vaccinations
- Food Safety: Traceability
- Cybersecurity: Privacy/Data Security/Ransomware
- Sustainability: Food Waste; EPR; Packaging; Recycling
- Payments: Swipe Fee Reform; Credit Competition
- Organized Retail Crime/Asset Protection
White House gains partners to end US hunger within a decade
FILE – President Joe Biden speaks during an event on health care costs, in the Rose Garden of the White House, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, in Washington. Biden is hosting a conference today on hunger, nutrition and health, the first by the White House since 1969. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration is counting on a variety of private-sector partnerships to help fund and implement its ambitious goal of ending hunger in America by 2030.
President Joe Biden is hosting a conference Wednesday on hunger, nutrition and health, the first by the White House since 1969. That conference, under President Richard Nixon, was a pivotal moment that influenced U.S. food policy agenda for 50 years.
The conference hosted by Nixon, a Republican, led to a major expansion of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps, and gave rise to the Women, Infants and Children program, which serves half the babies born in the U.S. by providing their mothers with parenting advice, breastfeeding support and food assistance.
This year’s conference hosted by Biden, a Democrat, focuses on his goal of essentially ending food insecurity for all Americans by decade’s end. It also seeks to promote healthy eating, good nutrition and physical activity so that fewer people are afflicted with diabetes, obesity, hypertension and other diet-related diseases.
Before the conference, Biden’s administration released a list of more than $8 billion in commitments to the cause from private companies, charitable foundations and industry groups
While Biden is touting the successful buy-in campaign from the private sector, some of the strongest potential obstacles to his proposals lie in the increasingly partisan Congress.
Proposed policy changes include an expansion of SNAP eligibility, expanding access to free meals in schools and extending summer meal benefits to more schoolchildren. All of those changes would require congressional approval.
Progressive Democrats frustrated with 2022 primary losses
NEW YORK (AP) — With less than two months until the midterm elections, progressive Democrats are facing a test of their power.
Their party is heading into the final stretch of the campaign with a robust set of legislative accomplishments that include long-term progressive priorities on issues ranging from prescription drug prices to climate change. But the left has also faced a series of disappointments as Democratic voters from Ohio to Illinois to Texas rejected high-profile progressive challengers to moderates or incumbent members of Congress during the primary season.
The frustration is particularly acute in New York, where Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez defeated one of the highest-ranking congressional Democrats four years ago, injecting fresh energy among the party’s most liberal voters. This year, however, New York City Democrats chose Dan Goldman, a former federal prosecutor who is more of a centrist, over several progressive rivals, including freshman Rep. Mondaire Jones. About 30 miles north in the Hudson River Valley, a powerful establishment candidate, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, defeated a state lawmaker running to his left and backed by Ocasio-Cortez.
Those setbacks have raised fresh questions about the progressive movement’s standing among Democrats. Progressive leaders urge against reading too much into those losses, particularly in New York, where repeated elections this summer after a redistricting battle left some voters disoriented or disengaged.
Progressives have notched notable victories this year. In Oregon, Jamie McLeod-Skinner ousted moderate Rep. Kurt Schrader. Activist Maxwell Alejandro Frost topped a crowded field of Democrats in Florida and is poised to become the youngest member of Congress. And labor organizer Summer Lee edged out an establishment-backed candidate in Pennsylvania.
But those wins risk becoming the exception rather than the rule as moderates have repeatedly asserted their strength in recent years. President Joe Biden won his party’s nomination in 2020 after overcoming challenges from more liberal contenders including Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
“Progressive” has long been a squishy label for Democrats. It generally refers to the party’s left flank but has been embraced by rank-and-file liberals as well as those much further left on the spectrum, including self-described democratic socialists like Ocasio-Cortez and Sanders.
The term “progressive” was even the subject of the first 2016 Democratic presidential debate between Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, with Sanders suggesting Clinton was not sufficiently progressive and Clinton disputing that and calling him the “self-proclaimed gatekeeper for progressivism.”
New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, the chair of the House Democratic caucus and a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said “there’s a difference between the socialist machine and mainstream progressives.”
“There are some forces on the left that want to define ‘progressive’ as ‘You bend the knee and we tell you what to do, and if you fail to fall in line, you’re a machine Democrat or a corporate sellout.’ That’s a joke,” he said.
Jeffries said the left had some success taking out more traditional Democrats in 2018 and 2020 as Democratic frustrations with President Donald Trump translated into energy for insurgent campaigns. But Jeffries said that once Biden won the White House and his Democratic-controlled Congress began passing legislation, Democratic voters were no longer looking for insurgency.
“At a certain point in time, voters want results, particularly when Democrats have been entrusted with majorities,” he said. “And that is what we have been delivering.”
Millions of Americans will save on Medicare fees next year
By AMANDA SEITZyesterday
WASHINGTON (AP) — For the first time in a decade, Americans will pay less next year on monthly premiums for Medicare’s Part B plan, which covers routine doctors’ visits and other outpatient care.
The rare 3% decrease in monthly premiums is likely to be coupled with a historically high cost-of-living increase in Social Security benefits — perhaps 9% or 10% — putting hundreds of dollars directly into the pockets of millions of people.
“That’s something we may never see again in the rest of our lives,” said Mary Johnson, the Social Security and Medicare policy analyst for The Senior Citizens League. “That can really be used to pay off credit cards, to restock pantries that have gotten low because people can’t afford to buy as much today as they did a year ago and do some long-postponed repairs to homes and cars.”
The 2023 decrease in monthly Medicare premiums comes after millions of beneficiaries endured a tough year of high inflation and a dramatic increase to premiums this year. Most people on Medicare will pay $164.90 a month for Part B coverage starting next year, a savings of $5.20.
Medicare paid less for that drug than it expected this year, helping shore up reserves that allowed the agency to set the Part B premiums lower for 2023, the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare said in a statement Tuesday. Spending on other Medicare services and items was lower than expected, too. The annual deductible for the Part B program will also decrease $7 to $226.
President Joe Biden lauded the lower Medicare premiums during a Rose Garden speech Tuesday.
As the midterm elections near and Biden’s administration struggles to contain the painful side effects of inflation, the White House has increasingly trumpeted its work around curtailing health care costs.
“(To) millions of seniors and people with disabilities on Medicare, that means more money in their pockets while still getting the care they need,” Biden said.
Biden pointed to more cost savings on the way for some Medicare recipients starting next year thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act, which will require Medicare to cover the cost of recommended vaccines for older Americans and will cap monthly insulin copayments at $35 per month. Other provisions in the legislation, including a rule that allows Medicare to negotiate directly with drug companies on the price of some medications, will take a few years to kick in.
The bill received no support from congressional Republicans, a talking point the White House has frequently pushed in speeches and across its social media accounts in recent weeks.
Republicans have a different slant on the subject.
“Desperation is setting in at the White House,” the Republican National Committee said in response to Biden’s speech Tuesday. “Voters have a clear choice in the midterms as they know Biden and the Democrats sent costs for groceries soaring, created a recession and increased taxes.”
The lower Medicare premiums were announced as 66 million Americans await the announcement of next year’s Social Security cost-of-living increase for 2023. Analysts estimate that it could be historic, roughly between 9% and 10%. The exact amount will be announced next month.
The Inflation Reduction Act Is Now Law—Here’s What It Means For You
President Joe Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 into law on Aug. 16.
The bill is a major accomplishment for Democrats who have been struggling for months to pass Biden’s ambitious social and climate policies, as well as his vision to raise taxes on the rich. The legislation includes large investments in making health care and prescription drugs more affordable, fighting climate change and taxing wealthy corporations.
Americans can expect to see the continuation of Affordable Care Act premium subsidies that lower the cost of health insurance from now until 2024 (they were due to expire at the end of 2022).
But savings from other provisions in the bill won’t kick in until the future. For example, efforts to lower drug prices, including caps on their costs for seniors, won’t take effect until 2025.
While its name claims it will tame soaring inflation, estimates show that the bill likely won’t do much to pull down the inflation rate. But it remains a significant piece of legislation that accomplishes some initiatives that have been mired in congressional debate for decades.
What’s in the Inflation Reduction Act
The Inflation Reduction Act is a slimmed-down version of the Build Back Better bill, which aimed to make historic investments in the nation’s social safety net. The new bill makes the largest investment in combating climate change in U.S. history, lowers the cost of prescription drugs and raises taxes on corporations.
Here are the big provisions:
- Creation of a 15% corporate minimum tax rate: Corporations with at least $1 billion in income will have a new tax rate of 15%. Taxes on individuals and households won’t be increased. Stock buybacks by corporations will face a 1% excise tax.
- Prescription drug price reform: One of the most significant provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act will allow Medicare to negotiate the price of certain prescription drugs, bringing down the price beneficiaries will pay for their medications. Medicare recipients will have a $2,000 cap on annual out-of-pocket prescription drug costs, starting in 2025.
- IRS tax enforcement: The IRS has been sounding the alarm for years about being underfunded and being unable to deliver on its duties. The bill invests $80 billion in the nation’s tax agency over the next 10 years.
- Affordable Care Act (ACA) subsidy extension: Currently, medical insurance premiums under the ACA are subsidized by the federal government to lower premiums. These subsidies, which were scheduled to expire at the end of this year, will be extended through 2025. Approximately 3 million Americans could lose their health insurance if these subsidies weren’t extended, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
- Energy security and climate change investments: The bill includes numerous investments in climate protection, including tax credits for households to offset energy costs, investments in clean energy production and tax credits aimed at reducing carbon emissions.
In a statement released after the Senate’s passage of the bill, Biden asserted that the legislation would bring inflation relief to Americans. But one early study shows that in reality, the Inflation Reduction Act likely won’t reduce prices at all.
According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), a federal agency that provides budget and economic information to Congress, the bill will barely make a dent on inflation in the near term—and could even nudge it upward.
Though the bill may fall short of bringing immediate price relief to consumers, it’s monumental in other ways. According to The Wilderness Society, a nonprofit land conservation organization established in 1935, the Inflation Reduction Act is described as a “breakthrough” on climate policy.