"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
Response to President's Health Care Plan and Summit: Three Things You Can Do
February 26, 2010
Response to President's Health Care Plan and Summit: Three Things You Can Do
In order to bridge the differences between the U.S. House and Senate-passed health care bills - and continue to move reform forward - President Obama unveiled his Administration's own health plan on Monday. The plan contains several major steps toward improving the well-being of current and future retirees. "President Obama's plan recognizes the millions of seniors who are struggling to afford to see a doctor or get a prescription filled," said Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance. "For retirees, continued inaction would be devastating. Medicare premiums and out-of-pocket costs would soon eat up more than one-third of a retiree's Social Security benefits." For the Alliance's comparison of Obama's health reform bill with those passed by the U.S House and Senate, go to http://bit.ly/aMvKTJ. On Thursday, President Obama led a televised health care reform summit, which focused on discussing ideas and grievances about the proposed health care bill from both parties. White House officials named 21 lawmakers the president wanted to attend the summit: the top leaders in the House and Senate and of the committees with jurisdiction over the health legislation. Obama also invited the top four leaders to invite four more lawmakers each, bringing the total to 37; 20 Democrats and 17 Republicans. For a specific list of the attendees, go to http://bit.ly/aTLD6n. As a follow-up to the summit, concerned senior activists are encouraged to do 3 things:
- Contact your U.S. House member and two Senators by calling 202-224-3121. Tell them that President Obama's proposal would close the "doughnut hole" coverage gap in Medicare Part D; finally end the $3.60 per month every senior pays in higher premiums to subsidize the big insurance corporations that run Medicare Advantage; and make long-term care more affordable for middle-class families.
- Write a letter to the editor of your local paper reiterating the need for reform. You may find it helpful to use the language at http://bit.ly/8YMsgI as a guide; and
- Share Alliance materials like the comparison chart above and the fact sheet at http://bit.ly/a1qtC8 with your friends and neighbors.
Further evidence of the need for reform came last Friday, with the release of a study by a major consulting firm showing that spiraling costs are a problem even for seniors with solid insurance. The Avalere Health study found that premiums for private Medicare Advantage plans offering medical and prescription drug coverage jumped 14.2% on average for 2010. Some 8.5 million seniors and disabled Americans who signed up for the private plans will therefore be facing sharp premium increases this year, following an increase of 5.2% last year.
More Debt Commission Appointees Named
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) on Tuesday appointed Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) to serve on the President's fiscal panel tasked with developing a plan to bring down the $12.3 trillion national debt. The President said that the commission can consider everything, including new taxes, spending cuts and changes to Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid, in order to reach his goal of balancing the federal budget except for debt interest payments by 2015. Obama is asking Congress to consider the panel's recommendations. Obama will appoint six people to the 18-member panel and up to four can come from the same party. Leaders in Congress will choose the other 12 members, with three coming from the Republican and Democratic caucus in each chamber. Reid is the first congressional leader to announce his picks. The majority leader said that he would make sure that the panel's recommendations, which are non-binding, receive votes in the Senate. Both Baucus and Conrad are noted centrists, a group of lawmakers that has made debt and deficit issues a priority. Obama last week selected former Clinton Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles and former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-WY) to head the panel. Today, the president named former Clinton White House budget director Alice Rivlin; Service Employees International Union President Andy Stern; former Young & Rubicam Brands CEO Ann Fudge; and Honeywell CEO and Chairman David Cote to fill remaining slots, an administration official said. "I would like to say to the panel: Social Security's long-term solvency can be resolved by relatively modest adjustments, and without cutting benefits," stressed Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance. To see the Alliance's latest document on Social Security, which refutes opponents' charges that today's budget problems are due to Social Security, go to http://bit.ly/c68Nom.
Requests for Heating Assistance Rise By 15%
As the winter wears on, the number of households applying for home heating assistance has risen to record levels for the third straight year, rising by 15% to include 8.8 million households. The majority of these applicants are low-income seniors, disabled people, and families living beneath the federal poverty line. Under LIHEAP (the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program), states provide grants of about $500; however, due to increased demand, many states have had to cut the grants or applications to stretch funds, leaving many in the lurch. "While several states forbid the cut-off of utilities during the winter, struggling retirees often put off payments and build up debt," said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. "In the spring, seniors may find themselves lacking gas and electricity as companies seek payment."
Sign Up By March 2 to Get Special Room Rate for the Las Vegas Convention!
As 2010 political campaigns heat up, retirees need to begin learning more about elections that will see the entire U.S. House, one-third of the U.S. Senate, and 36 gubernatorial races on the November ballot. A great place to start is this year's Alliance National Convention, April 5-8 in Las Vegas, which will feature noted speakers and training workshops on mobilizing retirees for electoral success. Alliance members will elect a president and secretary-treasurer, and community members will elect six community-based board members. Hotel reservations must be made by contacting Bally's Las Vegas directly at 1-800-358-8777. To guarantee the low room rate of $89, you must make your hotel reservation by March 2, 2010. To register for the convention itself, please go to http://bit.ly/1jIzz2.