RECOGNIZING AND HONORING AMERICA'S SENIORS -- (House of Representatives - September 19, 2006)
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Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to support and cosponsor H. Res. 874, a resolution honoring America's senior citizens for their contributions to American life. I am particularly pleased by the language encouraging young people to seek out and talk to our Nation's seniors about these seniors' life experiences. Talking to beloved grandparents, aunts, uncles, or friends about their past is a great way to learn history and gain an understanding of the past that simply cannot be obtained from a textbook.
I hope that, in the limited time left in this congressional session, we would further demonstrate our commitment to America's seniors by voting on my Senior Citizens' Improved Quality of Life Act, H.R. 5211. H.R. 5211 contains a number of items of great importance to America's seniors. H.R. 5211 helps seniors by:
Repealing all taxes on Social Security benefits. Since Social Security benefits are financed with tax dollars, taxing these benefits is an example of double taxation. The benefits tax also reduces Social Security benefits by subterfuge.
Ensuring that Social Security trust fund money is used only for Social Security. H.R. 5211 requires that all money raised for the Social Security trust fund will be spent in payments to beneficiaries, with excess receipts invested in interest-bearing certificates of deposit. This will keep Social Security trust fund money from being diverted to other programs, as well as allow the fund to grow by providing for investment in interest-bearing instruments. Ending the raid of the Social Security trust fund is a vital first step in any serious Social Security reform plan. Protecting the trust fund also demonstrates our commitment to putting the priorities of the American people ahead of special interest pork barrel spending.
Repealing provisions of Federal law that restrict the ability of senior citizens to form private contracts for health care services. This restriction violates the rights of seniors who may wish to use their own resources to obtain procedures or treatments not covered by Medicare, or to simply avoid the bureaucracy and uncertainty that come when seniors must wait for the judgment of a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, CMS, bureaucrat before finding out if a desired treatment is covered. H.R. 5211 also stops the Social Security Administration from denying Social Security benefits to seniors who refuse to enroll in Medicare Part A. Forcing seniors to enroll in Medicare Part A as a condition for receiving Social Security violates the promise represented by Social Security. Americans pay taxes into the Social Security trust fund their whole working lives and are promised that Social Security will be there for them when they retire. Yet, today, seniors are told that they cannot receive these benefits unless they agree to join another government program.
Allowing seniors who neither want nor need to participate in the Medicare program to refrain from doing so and ensuring seniors have the freedom to use their own resources to obtain quality health care will strengthen the Medicare program for those seniors who do wish to receive Medicare benefits. Of course, H.R. 5211 does not take away Medicare benefits from any senior. It simply allows each senior to choose voluntarily whether or not to accept Medicare benefits.
Ensuring that Social Security benefits only go to American citizens. Proposals, such as those contained in the Reid-Kennedy immigration bill, to allow noncitizens, including those who entered the country illegally, to receive Social Security benefits are a slap in the face to America's workers and seniors. H.R. 5211 ensures that only American citizens who have paid into the Social Security trust fund can receive Social Security benefits.
Providing seniors with a tax credit to help cover their prescription drug expenses not covered by Medicare and repealing Federal barriers that prohibit seniors from obtaining quality prescription drugs from overseas. Even though Congress added a prescription drug benefit to Medicare, many seniors still have difficulty affording their prescription drugs. One reason is because the new program creates a ``doughnut hole,'' where seniors must pay for their prescriptions above a certain amount out of their own pockets until their expenses reach a level where Medicare coverage resumes. H.R. 5211 helps seniors cope with these costs by providing them with a tax credit equal to 80 percent of their out-of-pocket pharmaceutical costs.
H.R. 5211 also lowers the price of pharmaceuticals by making two changes in the law to create a free market in pharmaceuticals. First, H.R. 5211 allows anyone wishing to import a drug to submit an application to the Food and Drug Administration, FDA, which then must approve the drug unless the FDA finds the drug is either not approved for use in the U.S. or is adulterated or misbranded. Second, H.R. 5211 ensures that lawful internet pharmacies can continue to offer affordable prescription drugs free of Federal harassment.
In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I reiterate my support for H. Res. 874 and my hope that Congress will continue to show its appreciation for America's seniors by voting on my Senior Citizens' Improved Quality of Life Act before adjourning for the year.
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