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Ranking Member Braun releases top Aging Committee priorities

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April 18th, 2024

Ranking Member Braun releases top Aging Committee priorities

WASHINGTON— Today, Ranking Member Mike Braun sent a letter to Senate Budget Committee Chairman Sheldon Whitehouse and Ranking Member Chuck Grassley detailing Braun’s fiscal year (FY) 2025 priorities and overall budget concerns for the Senate Special Committee on Aging. In the letter, Senator Braun highlights priorities including the following:

  • Sustaining essential programs for seniors like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid
  • Improving retirement security
  • Standing up for seniors in the gig economy
  • Reducing barriers for those who want to enter the health care workforce
  • Increasing health care options and access to care

Senator Braun also emphasized the growth of the national debt from $31.6 trillion to $34.6 trillion since his FY 2024 letter. There are serious concerns for the longevity of programs designed to protect older Americans if the national debt continues to increase. The letter is in response to the Budget Committee’s request for views and estimates of programs under the jurisdiction of the Special Committee on Aging as required by the Section 301(d) of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974.

Ranking Member Braun writes,

“While the Senate Special Committee on Aging (“the Committee”) does not have legislative authority, the Committee conducts oversight and provides recommendations for legislation on a range of issues that impact older adults. It is projected that by 2030, seniors will outnumber children for the first time in our nation’s history.  The Committee Minority will prioritize policies that sustain and safeguard safety net programs that are essential to our nation’s seniors, protect older Americans’ retirement funds, grow the workforce needed to care for seniors, and lower healthcare costs through competition and transparency.”

Braun continues,

“When defense and non-defense spending are equal, both parties vote for massive spending bills. Of the 972 mandatory baseline spending items, 645 of them are unrelated to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public pensions, or food security. These programs are essential to our nation’s seniors and most vulnerable populations, but reckless spending is putting the fiscal health of these programs in jeopardy. Both Medicare and Social Security will be insolvent within the next decade. Rather than massive tax increases, President Biden and Congress should be calling for reduced spending to sustain these vital programs. That is why in the 117th Congress I released my own budget, which would balance the budget in 10 years without touching programs that are essential to our most vulnerable populations like Medicare and Social Security. President Biden’s budget fails to put these programs on a sustainable path. My budget would extend the life of the Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid trust funds, ensuring that the millions of seniors who rely on these programs can continue to count on them.”

Braun concludes,

“Finally, the Committee plans to prioritize increasing health care options and access to care for individuals. In particular, the focus will be on making health care more affordable through competition and transparency. Congress should pass my bipartisan Health Care PRICE Transparency Act 2.0. This bill would finally introduce true transparency into health care pricing by requiring all negotiated rates and cash prices between plans and providers to be accessible. We will also seek to lower health care costs by reducing prescription drug costs and promoting biosimilar competition, encouraging state flexibility and innovation, supporting telehealth, strengthening Medicare, and increasing innovative treatments for those struggling with serious and life-threatening illnesses. Congress should pass the bipartisan Promising Pathway Act, a cost neutral bill which establishes a rolling, real-time priority, review pathway at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to evaluate provisional drugs intended to treat, prevent, or diagnose rare or progressive diseases. The Committee will explore avenues to speed up treatment for older Americans and make health care more efficient and affordable for everyone.”

Read the full letter here.