Americans are living longer than ever before. Many may spend decades out of the workplace in retirement. That puts even greater urgency on building an adequate nest egg to last and accommodate retirement. It also calls for the aggressive enforcement of standards to prevent elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation.
For more than 25 years, Senator Grassley has used his leadership position on various Senate committees to fight for the nation’s older Americans. At the helm of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Grassley advanced critical Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and retirement policies. During his former chairmanship of the Senate Special Committee on Aging and the Judiciary Committee, he led efforts to improve enforcement of nursing home standards, prevent financial exploitation and abuse of the nation’s most vulnerable elderly, provide resources to family caregivers and root out waste in Medicare spending.
Addressing looming deficits in Social Security will take bipartisan leadership. Senator Grassley has called Social Security the most successful social program ever and is committed to making it financially sound for future generations. In the face of the coronavirus pandemic, Senator Grassley actively engaged in oversight of implementation of Social Security programs, to ensure that benefits are processed and paid as seamlessly as possible.
During his first tenure as Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Grassley authored the landmark Pension Protection Act of 2006 to protect employee pension plans from Enron-type corporate malfeasance and shore up the nation’s single-employer pension system for workers. The law also dramatically expanded retirement savings tax initiatives, including IRA contribution limits, and enhanced vesting and portability. Now, as Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee once again, Senator Grassley is leading the effort to reform the multiemployer pension system and provide retirement security for workers and retirees in these plans.
Senator Grassley also authored the bipartisan Retirement Enhancement and Savings Act of 2019, which was enacted in December 2019 as part of the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act. The SECURE Act encourages employers to adopt new retirement plans, enhances the ability of employees to transfer their retirement plan assets to a new plan when they change jobs, and encourages workers to plan and save for retirement.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Senator Grassley ensured that retirement provisions were part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Among other things, the CARES Act allows workers to access retirement funds without penalties and waives required minimum distributions for 2020. More information is available in the CARES Act Retirement FAQs, which can be found here.
Senator Grassley has long worked to ensure nursing homes can provide the highest level of dignity and care for America’s most vulnerable seniors. In 2019, he convened two hearings on neglect and abuse in nursing homes, where the Finance Committee heard from family members of nursing home residents, federal agency officials and watchdogs on the need for additional reforms in these facilities. Following these hearings, Senator Grassley led a bicameral, bipartisan effort questioning the use of psychotropic drugs among nursing home residents.
To help America’s seniors in the face high risks posed during the coronavirus pandemic, Senator Grassley led efforts to enhance the safety and quality of life for residents of long-term care facilities. His work prompted greater transparency and information sharing of COVID-19 cases in nursing homes. He also pushed to ensure a portion of CARES Act relief assistance to be devoted to long-term care facilities.
With his support, Congress also has approved a series of laws to respond to the 2020 coronavirus pandemic that support the health and well-being of older Americans, including $1,200 direct financial assistance payments, expanded Medicare telehealth coverage and enhanced funding and flexibility for the nutrition assistance and community-based programs authorized by the Older Americans Act, which he successfully worked to renew in 2020. Earlier the same year, Senator Grassley also helped secure Senate passage of a five-year renewal of the landmark Older Americans Act. His Emergency Support for Nursing Homes and Elder Justice Reform Act promotes critical nursing home and long-term care facility services such as teleivistation, pandemic response strike teams and adult protective services. It also extends key programs authorized by the Elder Justice Act.
Following his 2016 review of financial exploitation against America’s seniors, Senator Grassley introduced the Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act to strengthen penalties for crimes targeting seniors and establish Elder Justice Coordinators at the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission. This bipartisan legislation was enacted in 2017 and heralded as one of the most significant developments in policy protecting seniors. The bipartisan 3,000-member Elder Justice Coalition called it “one of the most comprehensive and meaningful bills ever developed to address the rapidly increasing problem of elder financial abuse in America.”
In 2020, Senator Grassley coauthored the bipartisan Promoting Alzheimer’s Awareness to Prevent Elder Abuse Act to build on the 2017 statute. It establishes additional training of first responders who encounter individuals with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. Senator Grassley has also led the charge to increase awareness of issues facing America’s seniors through authoring numerous resolutions designating Older Americans Month and World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.
Many older Americans depend on prescription medications to manage chronic health conditions and treat and cure disease. Senator Grassley was the lead architect of the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit, commonly known as Medicare Part D, which was created in 2003. He continues to push for increased access to affordable medications through congressional oversight and legislation. In 2019, he led an investigation into the rising price of insulin and hauled executives of the leading drug manufacturers before the Senate Finance Committee to explore the cause of high drug prices. Senator Grassley introduced the Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act to reduce out-of-pocket costs for seniors, bring stability and transparency to drug prices and save taxpayer dollars without hampering innovation and investment in pharmaceutical research and cures.