"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
Sickest Medicare Patients May Be Greatly Affected by the Super Committee
September 30, 2011
The “Super Committee” in Congress is tasked with finding $1.2 trillion worth of savings by November 23. If its members fail to do so, automatic spending cuts will kick in, taking that amount evenly from domestic and military spending. With only two out of the six meetings the committee has held thus far having been public, observers’ apprehension is growing. The few things that have trickled out include tax reform, as well as Medicare and Medicaid cuts. When it comes to spending cuts, both Democrats and Republicans seem to find common ground on the topic of “dual-eligibles,” the sickest and most costly patients. The term refers to people who are eligible for medical coverage under both Medicare and Medicaid; these patients make up about 16% of Medicare beneficiaries, yet make up about 27% of the program’s total spending. Right now, a possible solution being considered is forcing these patients into managed care, which currently about 100,000 of the 9 million dual patients are enrolled in. Whatever the Super Committee decides to do, the repercussions will be felt throughout the senior community and beyond. “With many states already cutting back on Medicaid, managed care plans for dual-eligibles could endanger the quality of care on which some of America's most vulnerable citizens depend,” warned Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance.
New on our Web Site: the Alliance’s 10-Year Anniversary Report
Visit http://bit.ly/pjVbXy for the Alliance’s 10-Year Anniversary report, which includes highlights of achievements since the Alliance’s launch in 2001. That web site also contains the latest video footage and material from our 2011 Legislative Conference. For pictures of the Iowa Alliance Quad Cities affiliate members - with their redistricted new U.S. Representative, David Loebsack (D) - go to http://bit.ly/qkDdhq.
Study Shows Medicare Advantage Increases Medicare Spending
In 2004, the Medicare program began to adjust its payments to private plans for enrollees’ health status. As a result, a plan would receive a higher “risk-adjusted” payment for a recipient with diabetes or heart disease than for an otherwise identical person without these conditions. For the National Bureau of Economic Research report, How Does Risk Selection Respond to Risk Adjustment? Evidence for the Medicare Advantage Program [ http://bit.ly/ovW0n1 ], researchers studied individual-level data for 55,000 people in the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey from 1994 to 2006. The authors were able to show that the private Medicare Advantage (MA) program has increased total Medicare spending, and transferred Medicare resources from the relatively sick to the relatively healthy. For example, before risk-adjustment began in 2004, switching from fee-for-service Medicare to Medicare Advantage increased average individual Medicare spending by $1,800. The authors calculated that using risk adjustment formulas on the population that enrolled before 2004 would have reduced MA overpayments by more than $800 a person. But when the reimbursement formula changed, so did the pattern of enrollment in Medicare Advantage plans. After 2004, switching from fee-for-service to Medicare Advantage increased Medicare spending by approximately $3,000 per person. The pattern suggests that Medicare Advantage plans invest more resources in their relatively healthy enrollees, perhaps to differentially retain them.
Attempts to Rig the 2012 Elections Suspected
According to an editorial by Harold Meyerson in The Washington Post, [ http://wapo.st/neaKFL ], ever since the Republicans gained power in the 2010 elections, they have made it increasingly difficult for minority, poor and young voters to participate in elections. Tactics include voter identification requirements, which can amount to a poll tax if the ID is not free. “There is no evidence that widespread voter impersonation is taking place in Pennsylvania,” said Pennsylvania Alliance President Jean Friday, and Alliance members have been e-mailing Pennsylvania state senators about voter ID requirements there. Another proposal in Pennsylvania has emerged that will change the practice of giving all the electoral votes to the candidate who wins the popular vote. This has been the practice in all past presidential campaigns, as well as in 47 other states. State Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi is pushing a plan that will give the candidate the number of electoral votes equal to the number of districts he wins. This re-working of the Electoral College, along with Pennsylvania redrawing its district lines, will give the GOP a majority of 12 districts. That means President Obama could still win the popular vote in Pennsylvania by carrying the urban areas, such as Philadelphia, but lose the majority of the Electoral College votes. A number of other swing states are thinking of adopting this system as well. To combat these and similar efforts, the Lawyers’ Committee has created the interactive “Map of Shame” at www.mapofshame.com or www.lawyerscommittee.org. In addition to highlighting the states with voter suppression legislation, the Lawyers’ Committee has created a tool to provide details about the changes.
Illinois Alliance Holds its State Convention
The Illinois Alliance convention was held last Friday at a UAW center in Ottawa, IL. Barbara Franklin was re-elected state President. Other officers elected: Homer K. Spaulding, re-elected as Executive Vice President; Katie Jordan, re-elected as Treasurer; and Jane Russell, Secretary. Speakers included Ms. Easterling and Kris Sadur of Rep. Jan Schakowsky’s office. Terri Gendel, Director of Benefits and Advocacy at AgeOptions, spoke about their Senior Medicare Patrol, a national program to stop Medicare Fraud. To learn more, go to http://bit.ly/gkTfyn.
Something on Your Mind? Write Letter, Win Pen!
Is there something you want retirees in your community to know about? Take a moment to write a letter to the editor, and if it is published, the Alliance will send you a free, union-made “Retirees with the Write Stuff” pen. “Letters to the editor are free and are often widely read,” said Alliance Secretary-Treasurer Ruben Burks, “with the deep-pocketed business interests we are up against, it’s nice to have an option that doesn’t cost money.” Most recently, Dorothy Asbury, Janice Ayres, Charlie Balban, Joseph Boffa, Jo Etta Brown, Sam Burnett, Robert Connett, Homer Craig, Billy Feitlinger, Tony Fransetta, Barbara Franklin, Judy Jobes, Gerald Lotierzo, Beatrice Lumpkin, Nick Makrinos, Reggie Marselus, Steve Skvara, William Stevens, Bill Wallace, and Guy Watson contributed to their local papers. If you have had a letter published lately, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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