"Raising the retirement age would inflict further hardship among a group of workers who are likely to face health and economic problems in their 60s." –Doug Hart, President, Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans
"Of all the lies and confusion that still surround the Affordable Care Act, perhaps the greatest is that it is bad for seniors." - Dave Meinell, President, Missouri Alliance for Retired Americans
"My father died when I was three. Because of Social Security (survivors) benefits, my Mom, my younger sister and I survived." – Diane Fleming, DC Alliance Member
"We fear that Congress will balance the budget on the backs of the 98 percent, which is working Montanans and retired Montanans. We simply cannot afford these devastating cuts to vital services such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid," –John Forkan, President, Montana Alliance for Retired Americans
"Along with national parks and Social Security, Medicare is one of the best ideas we Americans have ever devised." -Tim Cunningham, New Mexico Alliance Member
"Seniors have earned and deserve their Social Security checks, and they shouldn't have to go to Congress every 10 years and beg for the program to be renewed." –James Parent, Alliance for Retired Americans Regional Board Member
"Today's retirees paid Medicare and Social Security taxes in every paycheck we ever earned. Now that we are retired, these programs help us to be able to stay healthy and pay our bills. They are the promise we make to people who worked hard all their lives, and we need to keep that promise for today’s workers." –Tony Fransetta, President, Florida Alliance for Retired Americans
"Today's seniors want to lower the budget deficit. We do not want a large debt to be the legacy we leave to future generations, but we should not punish people who have paid Social Security taxes all their lives." –Jim Moore, President, North Carolina Alliance for Retired Americans
"Social Security should remain what it has been for 77 years – a solid, reliable way that generations of workers have been able to retire with dignity, economic security, and peace of mind." –Barbara J. Easterling, President, Alliance for Retired Americans
"The fight for Social Security and Medicare is part of a larger fight for justice and fairness"—Barbara J. Easterling, President, Alliance for Retired Americans
"The health insurance reform helps not just seniors, but also middle-class families and young Americans, who are just starting to see the benefits. Don’t let Republicans take all that away." –Don Rowen, President Emeritus, Iowa Alliance for Retired Americans
"Honoring the promise of Social Security and Medicare should not be a partisan issue. Honoring the contributions that we make throughout our working years so that we may feed and clothe ourselves, keep a roof over our heads and those of our family, there is no reason for that to be a hotly contested partisan issue." –Edward Coyle, Executive Director, Alliance for Retired Americans
"We need to make sure that people who need Social Security to make ends meet will have it, and not fall victim to ill-informed and unnecessary cuts to these vital programs."
–Barbara J. Easterling, President, Alliance for Retired Americans
Alliance Celebrates Victory of Mark Critz in Pennsylvania
May 21, 2010
Alliance Celebrates Victory of Mark Critz in Pennsylvania
On Tuesday, Democrat Mark Critz defeated Tim Burns (R), 53% - 45%, in Pennsylvania's 12th Congressional District, winning a special election and a seat in Congress. Each political party said the race to succeed the late John Murtha (D) was something of a bellwether for the fall. "Seniors have elected a real friend to Congress," said Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance. "The Alliance looks forward to working with Mr. Critz on protecting Social Security as the President's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform comes up with its recommendations," he added, since Critz signed a pledge to oppose privatizing Social Security. In the race for U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania, Rep. Joe Sestak defeated current Senator Arlen Specter in the Democratic primary, 53% - 47%. Sestak, who achieved a score of 100% in 2009 on the Alliance's voting record, will face former Rep. Pat Toomey, who won the Republican nomination, in November. In Arkansas, incumbent Sen. Blanche Lincoln got 44.5% of the vote in the Democratic primary, with Lt. Gov. Bill Halter gathering 42.5%. The two will face off in a June 8 run-off, since no one gathered more than half the votes. In Kentucky, political newcomer Rand Paul rode support from tea party activists to victory in the Republican Senate primary. Mr. Paul has said that the retirement age will almost certainly have to be raised for people to be eligible for Social Security. In Kentucky's Democratic primary, state Attorney General Jack Conway defeated Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo, 44% - 43%.
Congress Trying to Fix Doctors' Medicare Reimbursements
The U.S House and Senate are scheduled to vote soon on H.R. 4213 -- the American Jobs, Closing Tax Loopholes, and Preventing Outsourcing Act -- that extends unemployment benefits, COBRA subsidies, and enhanced Federal Medicaid Assistance Percentage (FMAP) matching funds for states, while fixing physician payments under Medicare for 5 years. Failure to pass this legislation will result in doctors facing a 21% cut in their Medicare reimbursements. However, the doctor reimbursement fix will ensure that Medicare beneficiaries continue to have access to family physicians and specialists. Also included in H.R. 4213 is a provision to increase funding to states to help pay for increased Medicaid reimbursements. Medicaid dollars provide assistance to low-income seniors and pay for nursing home care; failure to extend this provision will force states to close budget gaps with brutal cuts that will affect many seniors. Alliance members have already sent more than 2,000 letters this week to Congress by clicking on http://bit.ly/bk1MXA and pushing for doctors' reimbursements not to be cut.
Special Committee on Aging: Social Security Only Needs Modest Changes
Social Security faces a $5.3 trillion shortfall over the next 75 years, but a new congressional report says the gap could be erased with only modest changes to payroll taxes and benefits. Many changes wouldn't affect current recipients, according to the report by the Senate Special Committee on Aging. Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI), chairman of the committee, said small "tweaks" are all that is needed to bolster Social Security's finances for future generations of retirees. "Modest changes can be made over time that will keep the program in surplus," Kohl told The Associated Press. The report lays out options for fixing Social Security, but does not endorse any of them. Kohl said lawmakers will probably combine several options to ease their impact. To view the report, go to http://bit.ly/bQkEdp. The panel's analysis will be presented to President Obama's Fiscal Commission. Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH), who sits on the Commission, said recently that raising the Social Security retirement age would not have much of an impact on someone's "lifestyle." "He must be referring to his own lifestyle, and not that of thousands of Granite State residents who work in physically demanding construction and service sector jobs," said Charlie Balban, President of the New Hampshire Alliance.
Insurance Companies Focused on Shaping New Rules
Since the Patient Protection and Affordable Care law passed, the health insurance industry has switched its attention from opposing reform to manipulating how the law will be implemented [ http://nyti.ms/b8BooG ]. Key areas of interest include how the new rules will define "unreasonable" premium increases, as well as a provision effective January 1st requiring that 80-85% of premiums be spent on real medical costs involved in patient care - not, for example, on administration. How this provision is interpreted, and what insurance companies can justify as patient care costs, remains to be seen. Alliance President Barbara J. Easterling said, "We cannot allow anyone to undo what we just accomplished with the passage of the new health law. Insurance bosses haven't stopped fighting, so neither can we."
Rhode Island Alliance Provides Wellness Screenings
The Rhode Island Alliance, led by President John Pernorio, held its Spring Healthlink Wellness screenings this week. Last month, the Rhode Island Alliance co-hosted its HealthLink Wellness Health Fair. Visitors were screened for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, oral cancer, and other health issues. Both events helped the uninsured and underinsured get basic medical care.
Ms. Easterling is in Buffalo, New York today for the general meeting of the Erie-Niagara County Alliance. Mr. Coyle is in Indianapolis for the Indiana Alliance's annual convention.
Budget Blogging Event Next Wednesday
Next Wednesday is the second meeting of the fiscal commission. The Alliance joins Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW) in co-sponsoring a blogging event all day. In order to have more voices heard on Obama's Fiscal Commission, and keeping the promise of Social Security, the Alliance encourages the public to sound off on their budget concerns. Raise your voices on blogs or social networks: What can President Obama and Congress do to help Americans be economically secure while balancing the nation's budget? More information is available at http://bit.ly/9y2wMA, with examples at http://bit.ly/9y2wMA . For Power Point slides on blog day, go to http://bit.ly/aYBjH1.