"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
Coyle Concerned About Proposed Means-Testing for Medicare
February 17, 2012
President Obama released his FY 2013 budget on Monday. While his administration does not propose changes to Social Security, there are several Medicare proposals which could cause beneficiaries to pay increased out-of-pocket expenses over time. One proposal would increase the number and share of beneficiaries who pay a higher, income-related premium. According to a new report by the Kaiser Family Foundation (http://bit.ly/zd7msE), means-testing could lead higher-income, healthier seniors to drop out of Medicare Part B and self-insure, leaving behind a smaller, less healthy group of seniors who would pay higher premiums. Additionally, Kaiser noted that over time, the income thresholds involved could be frozen, resulting in higher premiums for those who, by today's standards, may not be considered higher-income seniors.
“Means-testing opens the door to changing the unique, historical structure of Medicare as a broad, social-insurance program for retirees. An alternative way to lower Medicare costs would be to end the 2003 corporate loophole that prohibits Medicare from negotiating volume discounts from pharmaceutical companies,” said Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance. “President Obama has been a leader in protecting the well-being of America's seniors. He has stood strong for Social Security, and his Affordable Care Act is helping millions of seniors better afford to see a doctor and fill a prescription. In the coming weeks we will be discussing our concerns on this specific issue with Administration and congressional officials,” Mr. Coyle added.
One positive about the budget: In May of last year, the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations (LCAO) - a coalition that includes the Alliance - had written to Michael Astrue, Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, to express concerns about a decision to suspend the production and mailing of Social Security earnings benefit statements. The President’s budget calls for the full reinstatement of mailing the Social Security statement to workers at least 25-years-old in FY 2013.
Payroll Tax Cut Bill Affects Medicare Reimbursements, Unemployment Benefits
On Friday, the U.S. House and Senate passed H.R. 3630, the Temporary Payroll Tax Cut Continuation Act of 2011, heading off a 27% cut in reimbursements for physicians who treat Medicare patients. The respective House and Senate votes were 293-132 and 60-36. Without action, the reimbursement decrease would have taken effect on March 1. The bill would also continue a 2-percentage-point cut in the 6.2% Social Security payroll tax, which is deducted from workers’ paychecks, through 2012. For a family earning $50,000 a year, the cut saves $1,000 annually. “It is unfortunate that the legislation could not be passed without Republican demands that will hurt both the unemployed and federal employees,” said Mr. Coyle. For more, go to http://wapo.st/xuN8c7.
Romney Flip-Flops on Social Security and Medicare
Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney vowed at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) late last Friday to cut Social Security and Medicare (http://bit.ly/yc8B5x). With that statement, he was saying the exact opposite of what he’d promised in Florida just two weeks earlier, when he claimed, “We will never go after Medicare or Social Security, we will protect those programs” (http://bit.ly/AqWxuf). Romney specified that he would raise the retirement age for Social Security at the CPAC event.
Pivoting to discuss the auto industry on Wednesday this week in Michigan, Romney said, “I’ve taken on union bosses before and I’m happy to take them on again. I sure won’t give in to UAW.”
“Mr. Romney opposed the 2009 automobile industry bailout,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. “Fortunately, he wasn't in a position to make that decision, or thousands of workers would have lost their jobs while retirees lost their retiree health care benefits and pensions.”
Health Care Reform Helps Deliver Preventive Care to 86 Million Americans
Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), announced on Wednesday that the Affordable Care Act provided approximately 54 million Americans with at least one new free preventive service in 2011 through their private health insurance plans. She also announced that an estimated 32.5 million people with Medicare received at least one free preventive benefit in 2011, including the new Annual Wellness Visit, since the health reform law was enacted. Together, this means an estimated 86 million Americans were helped by health reform’s prevention coverage improvements. The HHS report on expanded preventive benefits in Medicare and other ways that the Affordable Care Act strengthens Medicare is available at http://www.cms.gov/newsroom.
To see Rep. Donna Edwards’ (D-MD) one-minute Affordable Care Act speech on the House floor on Tuesday, beside the Alliance's Valentine’s Day poster, click on http://bit.ly/A7xOaQ.
New Database Provides Economic Security Data for Elders and Families
Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW) has unveiled its new Economic Security Database, which provides local information on how much families and older adults need to make ends meet. Specifically, The Basic Economic Security Tables™ (BEST) Index and the Elder Economic Security Standard™ Index (Elder Index) measure the incomes workers and retired adults need to achieve economic security. Both measures are comprehensive definitions of economic security, presented at the state, county and city levels. WOW invites you to use the database in your work and share with your networks. To access the database, go to www.BasicEconomicSecurity.org.
WOW currently works with 17 state partners on the Elder Economic Security Initiative, including the Iowa & North Carolina Alliance for Retired Americans. On Tuesday, the North Carolina Alliance and WOW hosted an event to release the new North Carolina Elder Economic Security Initiative™ Program in Wake Forest. “Dozens of seniors attended, and television and print media gave the event enormous media coverage,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance. “If you are interested in how you can use the data in your state or have any questions, please contact Maggie Flowers at email@example.com or 202.464.1596.”
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