"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
New Alliance Voting Record Focuses on Health Care, Medicare, and Economics
May 07, 2010
On Tuesday, the Alliance marked Older Americans Month by releasing its latest voting record, a new report detailing the 2009 votes of every U.S. Senator and Representative on key issues affecting current and future retirees. The document is available at http://bit.ly/9KfGCU. "Higher scores show a commitment to improve health care, strengthen Medicare, and put seniors ahead of drug and insurance companies," said Alliance President Barbara J. Easterling. "The 2009 voting record showed a continuation of support for seniors in America, despite a tough economy," she added. The voting record examines 10 key Senate votes and 10 key House votes, showing the roll calls on issues such as helping pre-Medicare retirees afford health care, as well as Medicare-covered preventive screenings for seniors. Several votes addressed national spending on health care, including historic votes on epic health insurance reform.
One hundred eighty-three U.S. House members achieved perfect scores of 100% in 2009. One hundred and eighty-five received failing grades (60% or lower), with 16 receiving scores of zero. Of the House members appointed to the President's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform in 2010, Reps. John Spratt (D-SC) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) scored 100% with the Alliance; Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA) scored 90%; Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI) scored 10%, and Reps. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) scored 0%. The panel is considering major changes that would affect the financial future of Social Security and Medicare.
Fifteen members of the U.S. Senate achieved perfect scores of 100% in 2009, while 43 received failing grades of 60 percent or lower. Both Senators from Minnesota, Amy Klobuchar (D) and Al Franken (D), received perfect scores in 2009. The same was true for both of the Vermont Senators, Patrick Leahy (D) and Bernie Sanders (I). However, all of the Senators from the states of Georgia, Kansas, Utah and Wyoming scored zero. Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) has the lowest current lifetime Senate score with the Alliance, 1%.
"America Speaks": Forums for the Privatizers
The launch of the President's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform has renewed the urgency of the Alliance's mission to protect Social Security and Medicare from benefit cuts. Against that backdrop, on June 26, town halls on the budget and economy will be convened across the country by "America Speaks" - supposedly a non-partisan, non-profit - in an effort to "find common ground about the choices necessary to address the nation's growing deficit and national debt". The forums will be linked together by satellite and the internet and the resulting recommendations shared with members of Congress and the Fiscal Commission. "America Speaks is funded, in part, by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, and the Alliance shares the concern of many of our allied organizations that these town halls will not include our perspective regarding the deficit's causes and fixes,? said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. "It would be extremely helpful to have Alliance members participate in these forums," he declared. The meeting sites announced so far are in Albuquerque, NM; Augusta, ME; Casper, WY; Chicago, IL; Columbia, SC; Dallas, TX; Des Moines, IA; Detroit, MI; Grand Forks, ND; Jackson, MS; Kansas City, KS; Louisville, KY; Missoula, MT; Philadelphia, PA; Portland, OR; Portsmouth, NH; Redlands, CA; Richmond, VA; and San Jose, CA. Detailed information on the town halls, including the registration process, can be found at: http://usabudgetdiscussion.org/.
Administration Announces $5B for Early Retirees to Save on Health Insurance
The percentage of large firms providing workers with retiree coverage has dropped from 66% in 1988 to 31% in 2008. In order to entice employers to keep providing medical coverage to early retirees, the Obama administration is making $5 billion available until the safety net of the new health care law is in place. Effective next month, federal subsidies will allow employers to recoup a big chunk of the cost of medical claims for early retirees, aged 55 to 64 and not yet eligible for Medicare. The program will end in 2014, when Americans will be able to choose from additional coverage options through the health insurance exchanges. Employers can use the savings to either reduce their own health care costs, provide premium relief to their workers and families or a combination of both. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will begin the Early Retiree Program on June 1, 2010. You can learn more about the program at http://bit.ly/cul1cn.
National Women's Health Week
Coinciding with Mothers Day, May 8-16 is National Women's Health Week, a weeklong health observance coordinated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office on Women's Health (OWH). National Women's Health Week empowers women to make their health a top priority. With the theme "It?s Your Time," the nationwide initiative encourages women to take simple steps for a longer, healthier, and happier life. For more information, go to HHS' Office of Women's Health web site at www.womenshealth.gov/whw.
Two Alliance Members Speak at Capitol Hill Events
Stella Johnson and Caesar Dudley, community-based members from Washington DC, powerfully spoke on behalf of the Alliance at separate events on Capitol Hill this Thursday. Johnson joined House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka at a Steelworker-sponsored rally to celebrate the passage of the new health reform law. Johnson, who has fallen into the Medicare doughnut hole, said the new law will, "help seniors like me who struggle every day to afford the prescriptions and medical tests that they must have." Dudley spoke alongside several leading House Democrats to launch a congressional Seniors Task Force and unveil a Seniors Bill of Rights. [ www.dems.gov/seniors/bill-of-rights ] "People are living longer and longer, and our government must pay more attention to the needs of this growing population," he said. For pictures from yesterday, go to http://bit.ly/bwc9KC. For video footage of Ms. Easterling's press conference on reforming Wall Street, held last week with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Chris Dodd (D-CT), go to http://bit.ly/cKm3pM.