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Issue Position: Seniors and Retirees

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I consider it a great privilege that Florida's 19th district is home to so many of our nation's retirees. At every town hall meeting, I meet constituents who served in our armed forces and helped rebuild America after the Great Depression through meaningful careers in education, business, law enforcement, and more. The hard work of today's retirees is largely responsible for making America the most powerful economy in the world, and these men and women deserve the opportunity to enjoy a retirement of dignity and self-sufficiency. That is why I have joined the House Democratic Seniors Task Force, a coalition of colleagues who share my commitment to America's seniors. Together, we will work to protect affordable health care for seniors, ensure retirement security, combat abuse and scams, and promote safe and livable communities with adequate transportation options.

In the 112th Congress, I have reintroduced legislation to extend Social Security's solvency and ensure adequate cost of living adjustments for seniors - without cutting benefits for raising the retirement age. I am pleased that my bill, the Preserving our Promise to Seniors Act, has been endorsed by the Strengthen Social Security campaign, a coalition of several organizations committed to protecting the hard-earned retirement savings of America's workers.

With the House of Representatives now led by a Republican majority, standing up for Social Security and preserving quality Medicare benefits will continue to be upmost priorities of mine. I am disturbed by a recent budget proposal put forward by the Republican Chairman of the House Budget Committee, which once again ties Social Security benefits to risky private accounts and replaces Medicare with limited vouchers for private insurance.

I have also introduced legislation aimed at cracking down on financial scams targeted towards seniors. With more than $15 trillion in assets nationwide, America's seniors are prime targets for con artists determined to go after their lifesavings through fraudulent investment plans, counterfeit billing, deceitful telemarketing, and fake online sweepstakes and prizes. The federal government currently lacks an apparatus for tracking these crimes, and my legislation, the Seniors Financial Fraud Protection Act, seeks to change that. By creating an office within the Federal Trade Commission specifically charged with preventing fraud against seniors, we can better track these crimes, alert our communities of the latest scams, and protect these hard earned financial assets.

Another central priority of mine in the 112th Congress is the proper enforcement of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which contains several provisions that will improve Medicare benefits for seniors. Each year, over 20,000 seniors in Florida's 19th district fall into the Medicare donut hole, resulting in massive prescription bills. Starting in 2011, the health care reform law provides seniors in the donut hole with 50 percent discount on brand name medications, and over the next decade, this unfortunate coverage gap will be completely phased out.

In addition, the Affordable Care Act authorizes Medicare to provide annual check-ups and many routine screenings to Medicare patients free of charge. The bill also increases payments to primary care doctors and general surgeons who treat Medicare patients, a provision aimed at preserving seniors' access to quality care. Protecting the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act from Republican repeal efforts and ensuring this legislation and its many benefits to seniors are fully implemented will be a key priority of mine in the 112th Congress.


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