Two parts of the controversial Wisconsin law that severely curbs collecting bargaining rights were overturned last Friday by a federal judge, giving a partial victory to union members, retirees, and activists who have struggled to retain their rights.
"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
Seniors were among the many supporters and opponents of the 2010 health care law keeping a close eye on the Supreme Court this week, as the court heard oral arguments on the case to overturn the Affordable Care Act.
The Alliance marked today’s two-year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by holding 26 community events around the country, spotlighting new Medicare benefits and educating seniors on where elected officials and candidates stand on health reform. “The Affordable Care Act is helping seniors across the nation better afford to see a doctor and fill a prescription. The 3.6 million seniors with the highest drug costs have already saved an average of $600 on their prescriptions. Thirty-two million seniors have received free, life-saving tests for chronic diseases. The law is closing the ‘doughnut hole’ coverage gap in Medicare Part D, an egregious example of pharmaceutical company profits being placed ahead of the health care needs of our seniors,” said Barbara J. Easterling, the Alliance’s President. To read her full statement, go to http://bit.ly/AaJ8xJ.
In St. Louis, Missouri Alliance members were joined for an event featuring the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius. The Nevada Alliance held roundtables and press conferences in Henderson and Las Vegas. The North Carolina Alliance held a roundtable in Wendell, NC. Additional events included four educational events with seniors and students in Arizona; press conferences in Cape Coral, Florida; Dallas; Indianapolis; Pittsburgh; and across Wisconsin. The New York State Alliance held a press event in Albany.
Roundtables also took place in Denver, as well as in Des Moines, and Waterloo, Iowa. The Illinois Alliance protested at Rep. Aaron Schock’s office in Peoria, and the New Mexico Alliance held truth squads and presentations across New Mexico. The Washington State Alliance hosted cancer screenings in Gig Harbor, as well as additional events in Spokane and Renton, WA. The Oregon Alliance held an educational event at Rep. Kurt Schrader’s office. Other state chapters also celebrated the anniversary by helping to educate seniors about the benefits available to them through the ACA.
Bob Meeks, an Alliance member from Brandon, Florida, joined House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, and Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn for a press conference on Capitol Hill on Thursday. “In 2011, my monthly drug costs of $1200 a month went to between $600 and $800 a month while I was in the doughnut hole. This has been a huge help to me and my wife,” said Mr. Meeks of the ACA.
Easterling Commemorates Anniversary with Speech, Conference Call with Reporters
On Monday, Ms. Easterling held a teleconference call with reporters and Reps. John Larson (CT), Xavier Becerra (CA), Jan Schakowsky (IL), and Doris Matsui (CA), talking about the benefits of health care reform for seniors. Easterling traveled to Boca Raton, Florida on Wednesday to discuss health care with the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) Retirees Chapter of New York City.
Obama, Romney Differ on Plan to Cut Medicare, Medicaid
Barack Obama and Mitt Romney sharply disagreed this week on a budget proposal by U.S. House Republicans that would dramatically change Medicare and Medicaid while lowering taxes on corporations and wealthy Americans. The GOP presidential candidate praised it as “bold and exciting,” while a White House spokesperson called it, “a recipe for destroying Medicare as we know it… it is not a plan that this President could support.” MD/DC Alliance president Frank Stella spoke at a Tuesday rally against the plan, and Alliance Executive Board member Bill Cea is joining Vice President Joe Biden today at an event in Florida to highlight the Administration’s opposition. Read some of Biden’s remarks explaining what’s at stake at http://bit.ly/GIY9Ws.
“Under the proposal, seniors would be given vouchers to either buy health coverage in the costly private insurance market, or purchase it from a Medicare program that would be made more expensive by the exodus of younger, healthier retirees,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. The plan would also cut spending on Medicaid and turn it over to cash-strapped states, jeopardizing the only way over 70 percent of seniors are able to afford long-term or nursing home care. The budget plan, authored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), was approved by the House Budget Committee on Wednesday and is expected to be voted on by the full House next week. Also, on the same day that Romney endorsed the Ryan plan, one of his top economic advisors, Greg Mankiw, was forced to apologize for a joke he shared on his blog about deporting seniors to lower Social Security and Medicare costs. For the Alliance’s latest fact sheet on the Ryan budget, go to http://bit.ly/GTNEyL.
New Congressional Voting Record Now Available on the Web
The Alliance’s 2011 Voting Record is now available at http://bit.ly/kpet7N. The annual report details the voting record of every U.S. Senator and Representative on key issues affecting current and future retirees. This year's voting record examines the roll calls on issues such as health care repeal; the Paul Ryan budget; and a balanced budget amendment. Check next week’s Friday Alert for a breakdown of the findings.
Oregon Alliance Holds its Convention
Approximately 50 retirees attended the 9th annual conference of the Oregon Alliance, held March 10 in Portland. Scott Blau was elected president; Linda DeLucia was elected first vice president; Roz Gieze was elected trustee; and Jim Davis was elected member at-large. Resolutions addressed campaign finance reform and called for Congress to reauthorize the Older Americans Act. The Alliance also issued a special award to past president Verna Porter.
Pennsylvania Alliance Mourns Loss of Two Leaders
The Pennsylvania Alliance is mourning the recent deaths of two leaders, Ray Myers and Kate Brennan. Mr. Myers was a founding Board member of PARA, and continued in leadership roles for the state chapter even while serving as national President of the Communications Workers’ Retired Members Council. Ms. Brennan, also a PARA Board member, was a retired university professor who helped bring the Alliance to college campuses to educate students on health care and retiree issues. “Ray and Kate were dedicated, passionate activists. We honor their memories whenever we stand up for social and economic justice,” said Ms. Easterling.
Download a printable version
Next week – March 23 - marks two years since President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) into law and made health care reform a reality. The Alliance is planning almost 30 events across the country to commemorate the anniversary - and the benefits for seniors that come with it.
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney won six of the ten states that voted on Tuesday in the race to become the Republican nominee for President. Romney won Ohio, Virginia, Alaska, Massachusetts, Vermont and Idaho, but political analysts focused sharply on his slim margin of victory, 38% - 37%, over the second-place finisher in Ohio, former Sen. Rick Santorum (PA).
Senator Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) announced on Tuesday that she will not seek re-election and will instead retire after over 30 years in Congress. The announcement came as a surprise to many, especially since she was heavily favored to win re-election. She cited unproductivity and polarization in Washington as the main reasons for her sudden retirement.
The Alliance’s friends at American Rights at Work remind us that even in 2012, millions of workers are without minimum wage protections. More shocking is that 2.5 million of these unprotected workers are those who provide critical care to seniors and the disabled in their homes.
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.
On Monday, the White House’s Jon Carson, Director of the Office of Public Engagement, held a “Tweet-up” and conference call for seniors with Kathy Greenlee, Assistant Secretary for Aging, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Do you want to know more about the Affordable Care Act and dispel the myths about it? Want to ask administration officials about strengthening Social Security and Medicare for you, your kids and grandkids?