"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
Senior Issues take Center Stage in Nevada Senate Race
June 18, 2010
Senior Issues take Center Stage in Nevada Senate Race
Nevada Alliance members rushed to Republican/tea party Senate candidate Sharron Angle's office last Friday to protest her position on privatizing Social Security. "She's extreme. She's dangerous," said NARA President Scott Watts. Her opponent is Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D). Watts called emergency meetings in Las Vegas on Wednesday and Sparks, Nevada on Thursday about Angle's positions, and scores turned out to exchange warnings about her ideas for privatizing Social Security. Emotions ran high. Other sources of concern for retirees include Angle's stated desire to privatize Medicare and the Veterans Administration. Despite numerous attempts by television stations to reach Angle for comment and clarification, no one from her campaign returned their calls and e-mails over the past few days. During the primary campaign, Angle said that she wanted to phase out Social Security and Medicare programs, for something private. "I've never seen any compassion from this person as far as senior citizens are concerned. Never," Mr. Watts added. To see the print and television coverage, go to http://bit.ly/cPMtGr or http://www.facebook.com/retiredamericans.
Doc Fix Stalled in Congress as Some Medicare Patients Start Losing Their Doctors
On Monday, Obama Administration officials announced that the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services would hold all Medicare claims until today, June 18th, in order to give Congress more time to pass the "Doc Fix" provision. While the president's temporary solution put the Medicare reimbursement cuts on hold for a couple of days, it has by no means satisfied doctors or Medicare beneficiaries. The legislation currently stalled in the Senate, H.R. 4213, would prevent the 21% cuts to Medicare doctors through the end of 2011, extend unemployment insurance, provide pension fund relief, and add funds for the Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAP) program - federal matching funds under Medicaid for state expenditures on certain social services, medical costs, and health care insurance. Most of these provisions are emergency spending; traditionally, it has not been required that these be paid for in the legislation. The House passed a smaller bill that did not include FMAP. Neither the House nor Senate bill currently has a COBRA extension, though Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) has an amendment ready should the bill get to the floor for debate. Despite a multi-million dollar campaign by the American Medical Association, pressure from seniors around the country, and a plea from the President himself, Senate Republicans have refused to support the "Doc Fix" provision, because they feel that it is too expensive. On Thursday night, Senate Democrats came up four votes short, 56-40, in their attempt to invoke cloture on the measure, preventing the bill from going to the floor for a vote. Here is a link to the vote: http://bit.ly/aesGvc. Consequently, some doctors have been forced to stop accepting Medicare patients because they simply cannot afford to. "Medicare beneficiaries should never be at risk of losing their doctor, and that is why we ask that Congress work efficiently to prevent these cuts," said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance. Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and ranking Republican Charles Grassley (R-IA) are now attempting to move a six-month fully offset "doc fix" through the Senate. If they succeed, Baucus and Grassley would uncouple the doctors' provision from the rest of the bill (H.R. 4213). The fate of that bill, particularly without the doctor language, remains up in the air.
More Reason to Beware Social Security Cuts
Americans are living and working longer, and Alice Rivlin, a member of President Obama's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, told CNBC last week that raising the Social Security retirement age would help put the Social Security program on a sound footing. However, Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance, said that Ms. Rivlin's idea is not the right solution. "Raising the retirement age would put further hardships on many workers in their 60s who have all they can do to work until the current retirement age of 67," he said. The President's Fiscal Commission has been tasked with proposing recommendations designed to balance the budget by 2015 and helping put the country on a path to fiscal sustainability. Its recommendations will not be forced upon Congress, but Rivlin expects the commission's recommendations will come up in Congress for a vote. For the Alliance's latest publication on Social Security, go to http://bit.ly/cdq3lC.
Obama Administration Focuses on Preventing Medicare Fraud
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Attorney General Eric Holder have teamed up to combat Medicare fraud. Recently, at the directive of President Obama, Holder and Sebelius sent out a letter to state attorneys general asking them to help the administration fight Medicare fraud and scams that seek to target vulnerable seniors. In their letter, Sebelius and Holder outlined many actions that the state attorney generals could take, including leading fraud prevention forums across the country and educating seniors about the risk of scams. The first of these fraud prevention forums is scheduled to take place in Miami, Florida on July 16th, with other summits in Los Angeles, New York, and Boston to follow shortly thereafter. "This administration is devoted to protecting seniors from malicious criminals who seek to make a profit at their expense," said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. At his tele-town hall meeting last Tuesday, President Obama issued a stern warning to potential scammers, saying that he will ensure that they pay a heavy price for attempting to harm seniors.
Indiana Alliance Turns Concern About Home Health Care Funds into Action
Indiana seniors and people with disabilities who rely on home health care could experience a 15% funding reduction in the publicly funded care they receive come July 1. That could result in many more Hoosiers being forced into nursing homes rather than remaining in their homes while receiving less-expensive home health care visits. Civic leaders from the Indiana Home Care Task Force, including Indiana Alliance members, shared their concerns Wednesday in Terre Haute as they talked about the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration's decision to reduce funding for the CHOICE home care program, and continue a freeze on enrolling new clients in the Medicaid aged and disabled waiver. Indiana Alliance President Elmer Blankenship is especially vocal about the cause - sadly, he even knows people who say they have saved up pills to use to commit suicide rather than go into a nursing home.