"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
In Week of Health Care Developments, Thousands Gather to Rally Against Insurers
March 12, 2010
In Week of Health Care Developments, Thousands Gather to Rally Against Insurers
Tens of thousands of activists, seniors, union members, and religious leaders protested against insurance company abuses on Tuesday in front of the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, D.C., where America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) leaders were meeting. The enthusiastic crowd chanted and brandished their signs, demanding that Congress finish their health care reform fight. Several Alliance groups were among the protestors who turned out in full force. The same day, Alliance members participated in a conference call on health care with White House Senior Advisor David Axelrod. On Wednesday, President Barack Obama delivered a passionate, campaign-style health care stump speech in St. Charles, Missouri, just outside of St. Louis. Ten Alliance members attended that event. The next day, the Congressional Budget Office announced that the Senate health care plan would cut the deficit by $118 billion over a decade. Also on Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) outlined in a letter to Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) his plans to use reconciliation to make budget-related changes to the health reform legislation passed by the Senate in December. The procedure will allow the changes to pass with a simple majority in the Senate, rather than a super-majority of 60 votes. Reid noted in the letter that the bill reduces health care costs and fills the prescription drug "donut hole" for seniors while reducing the deficit. "We urge Congress to take the next step and pass this legislation, for the benefit of all Americans, especially seniors, who are feeling the brunt of health insurance abuses," said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance.
Alliance Works with National Center on Senior Transportation
The National Center on Senior Transportation (NCST) held their annual educational briefing on Capitol Hill on March 2, calling attention to the "silent need" for senior transportation in both rural and urban neighborhoods. NCST's priority is to ensure that older Americans have options in order to maintain mobility and their independence. Throughout the past year, they have partnered with numerous transportation groups to provide free or affordable travel options for seniors and the disabled. Among the topics discussed at the briefing were pedestrian-friendly senior communities and door-to-door pick-ups and drop-offs. "The Alliance is excited to work with the NCST on this issue," said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. "Nothing is more essential than helping seniors to maintain their independence and improve their quality of life." To find or organize a transportation program in your area, go to http://bit.ly/aHKRZk.
CVS Exec Kills Drug Labeling Reform in California
Last month, the California pharmacy board was poised to adopt strict new requirements for prescription drug labels, such as large type on labels and an oral translation available for non-English speakers. Senior citizens, consumer advocacy groups, and minority organizations had championed these proposals, calling them essential. However, the day before the vote, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) placed a CVS/Pharmacy executive on the board. The executive, Deborah Veale, then cast a vote that effectively killed that plan. Under the new regulations that did pass, pharmacies are not obligated to provide non-English translations of drug labels, and the small print on labels will remain. Nan Brasmer, President of the California Alliance, criticized the decision, stating plainly, "We can't clearly read little tiny type." The regulations contradict recommendations by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, but Schwarzenegger's spokesman said only that the governor was not trying to influence the vote and does not have an official position on labeling requirements.
Community-Based Scholarships Announced!
In order to ensure attendance of the nation's most dedicated and accomplished community-based seniors, the Alliance granted 10 scholarships to 12 individuals nationally to defray the costs of this year's Las Vegas convention. One of the scholarships was shared three ways. The winners include: Dawn Bronsema (CA), Samuel Burnett (OH), Sadie Coleman (MD), James Collins (NY), Suleika Cabrera Drinane (NY), Artist Gilbert (CA), Kathleen Kennedy (AZ), Diana Carpenter Madoshi (CA), Larry Malone (MO), Lithangia Robinson Murray (GA), Will Parry (WA) and Gerald Rennert (FL). Mr. Burnett said, "The number of seniors is growing and so is the need for them to get reliable information about the issues that matter to them. The Alliance provides a way for seniors to receive this information and to act accordingly. I look forward to taking skills from the convention back to my state."
Suggested Resolutions for Convention are Due by Monday
The Alliance's April 5-8 Las Vegas convention will offer educational and training opportunities to improve both grassroots activism techniques and leadership skills. Confirmed speakers include Sen. Reid and Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV); the Alliance wishes Sen. Reid's wife and daughter a speedy recovery from injuries sustained in a serious car crash on Thursday. As part of the convention, any delegate registered to attend may offer or second a resolution for consideration. The resolution must pertain to a statement of the Alliance's position or policy on a specific matter. Please send your suggestions to 2010Resolutions@retiredamericans.org to be considered. Proposed resolutions, and seconds, must be received by the Alliance no later than March 15, 2010 in order for the Resolutions Committee, designated by the Alliance President, to review them. To register for the convention, please go to http://bit.ly/1jIzz2.
Phil Feaster: A Lifetime of Service
Phil Feaster, former board member of the Teamster National Black Caucus and active member of the Maryland Alliance, died on Sunday, March 7. He was 70 years old. Feaster was elected President of Local 639, a position that he held for 17 years. A recipient of the Humanitarian of the Year Award in 1995, he devoted his life to the labor movement and improving the lives of working families. He served as a Maryland delegate for the 2000 Democratic National Convention, and remained active in retirement, speaking at a U.S House press conference with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in July about the "donut hole." A video that includes Mr. Feaster is on the Alliance's home web page at http://www.retiredamericans.org/. He will be greatly missed.