"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
House Passes Historic Health Care Bill, Obama Signs It Into Law
March 23, 2010
House Passes Historic Health Care Bill, Obama Signs It Into Law
House Democrats passed their landmark health care reform on a party-line 219-212 vote late Sunday night, marking an achievement that has been compared to the enactment of Social Security and Medicare. For a complete tally of the House vote to approve the Senate-authored health care bill, go to http://bit.ly/aTmGlN. Helping with the effort, some House Members changed their NO votes on the 2009 House reform bill to YES: Reps. Betsy Markey (D-CO), John Boccieri (D-OH), Scott Murphy (D-NY), Bart Gordon (D-TN) and Brian Baird (D-WA). Two others, Reps. Michael Arcuri (D-NY) and Zack Space (D-OH), flipped from YES to NO. The House also approved a package of reconciliation "fixes" to the Senate version of the bill, 220-211, which will be considered this week by the Senate. For a complete tally of the vote on legislative fixes to the Senate-passed bill, go to http://bit.ly/cusbdS. Reps. Dan Lipinski (D-IL) and Stephen Lynch (D-MA) voted against the House passage of the Senate bill but for the reconciliation bill fixes. Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN) did the opposite: he voted for the Senate bill and against reconciliation.
Alliance Executive Director Edward F. Coyle was with the President as he signed the bill into law today. "This landmark act will help current and future retirees in several specific ways," said Mr. Coyle. He listed:
- Closing the Medicare "doughnut hole" coverage gap so seniors will no longer have to cut dangerous corners on their medications;
- Eliminating co-pays for preventive screenings to help older Americans more quickly and affordably identify and treat diseases such as cancer and diabetes;
- Cutting wasteful spending to extend the life of the Medicare Trust Fund so seniors can better afford premiums which have doubled over the past eight years; and
- Reducing costly health problems by assisting pre-Medicare retirees with insurance costs and banning discrimination based on pre-existing conditions.
Many provisions go into effect quickly:
- A $250 rebate for Medicare beneficiaries who fall into the doughnut hole gap in prescription drug coverage in 2010;
- A 50% discount on drugs in 2011 for individuals in the doughnut hole;
- By 2011, free annual check-ups for seniors in Medicare, without having to make a co-payment for mammograms, colonoscopies and other preventive screenings;
- A prohibition on insurers from placing lifetime limits on coverage; and
- A prohibition on "rescission," or dropping coverage when individuals became sick
The Friday Alert of March 29, 2010 will be providing additional details.
Alliance Plays a Key Role Throughout the Process
"Thank-you, thank you, thank you for your role in making this happen!" Alliance President Barbara J. Easterling said to fellow members of the Alliance after the House voted on Sunday. "We logged over 6,300 calls to Congress yesterday alone. Thank you also to the members of Congress who have shown such tremendous courage." The Alliance encourages its members to attend welcome-home rallies for the House members who voted for reform, and to call them on the Capitol Hill switchboard at (202) 224-3121 to voice your appreciation.
Alliance Executive Vice President Judy Cato was in attendance on Sunday for the drama at the U.S. Capitol. She said, "I need health care reform. My family needs health care reform. Senior citizens need health care reform. Disabled vets need health care reform. I came here today to be another body to try to see this through. It feels really good to be here today. This moment is a long time a'coming. It's been tolling and a long, hard road to get this done. I think about my mother and father rallying here before, I just hope they're looking down on us and saying 'job well done!'"
Judy Cato, pictured with Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) and Working America's Liz Stender & baby Lola [Photo: AFL-CIO]
Republicans to Attempt Delay, Repeal
A majority of Senators, all Democrats, have agreed to support the reconciliation measure. Sen. John McCain of Arizona and other Republicans, however, have promised to slow the process down in the Senate through procedural objections. In addition, an effort to repeal the law has quickly become popular among conservatives. Please contact your senators at the same number as above, (202) 224-3121, to urge them to support the reconciliation measure. Also, please forward this Friday Alert to any friends and neighbors whom you do not think are fully aware of the advantages to seniors of the historic health reform that the President signed into law today.