On the Campaign Trail, Medicare Continues to be Central Topic

September 14, 2012

With the Democratic and Republican conventions over, Medicare continues to garner attention. Launching a two-day campaign swing in Florida, former President Bill Clinton pushed back in Miami on Tuesday against what he described as Republican scare tactics over health care programs for older Americans — then provided his own frightening predictions about what would happen to seniors if Mitt Romney became president.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Clinton said that the Republican nominee was misleading voters by arguing that President Obama’s health care overhaul “robbed Medicare of $716 billion,” noting that the money would mainly be cut from future payments to hospitals and insurance companies, not beneficiaries. He also said that “countless thousands” of seniors had voted against Democrats in 2010 because “they were given misinformation” about their Medicare votes. “The first time they did that it was their fault. If we let it happen again it is our fault, and we should not let them do it,” Clinton said.

Clinton said that if Romney were elected and followed through on his pledge to repeal the health care law, Medicare and seniors would pay $600 a year more for prescription drugs — part of the Affordable Care Act moved money from insurance companies and hospitals and into coverage for medicine — and the Medicare trust fund would “go broke” in 2016, eight years earlier than with the health law (More at http://lat.ms/QE73tJ).

According to a CNN poll released on Monday, President Obama has a double-digit lead over Mitt Romney on both the issues of health care and Medicare (http://politi.co/QAg6fp).

Medicare was also a major topic last week at the Senior Caucus events that took place during the Democratic Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. Pictures from those events are now available at http://bit.ly/ShUT6S. “I would like to thank Jim Moore, our North Carolina State President, and Steve Regenstreif - who is Chair of the Democratic National Committee Seniors Coordinating Council, Director of the Retiree Program for AFSCME, and an Executive Board Member of the Alliance - for organizing such well-attended, energetic events,” said Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance.

Grandparents Day Celebration Reaches Thousands!
The Alliance’s Grandparents Day message went out a day in advance of last Sunday’s Grandparents Day holiday. Thousands saw our e-mail message, and many of them clicked through the links to complete the action of sharing a message/graphic via Facebook. Some of our favorite comments: “Please remember to give your grandparents a call on Sunday!” and, “At 89 years, with three great-grandchildren, I can say I have been an activist because growing up and living in the U.S. has been such a blessing. I've wanted to do my part in making sure we continue to try to make our country a ‘more perfect union,’ taking care of all of us.” For more, see http://on.fb.me/Tr5e62.

Chicago Teachers Gain the Support of Parents, Retirees during Strike

This week, 30,000 members of the Chicago Teachers Union went on strike. They are fighting for a contract that includes fair compensation, meaningful job security, smaller class sizes, and better resources for students. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, working with the school board, and the teachers are not far apart on overall compensation, but evaluation procedures remain a big concern.

After the initial phase-in period, the Chicago Public School System’s (CPS’s) proposed evaluation procedures could result in nearly a third of all CPS teachers facing discharge within one or two years. Many believe that the city’s proposal places too much emphasis on standardized test scores, diminishing children’s education and punishing teachers unfairly. CPS is also imposing a new curriculum at all schools and a strict evaluation system. Teachers have asked for more training, but CPS proposes no increase - or in some cases, decreased - teacher training. Also being discussed: a timetable for air conditioning. Teachers insist that CPS agree to a reasonable timetable to install air conditioning in student classrooms. In July and August, students sit in sweltering 98-degree heat. “The teachers' requests are more than fair,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance. “And retired teachers know, the better you work, the better you retire.”

Protests Target Plans to Extend Bush Tax Cuts for the Wealthiest Americans

Protesters all across the U.S. gathered on Wednesday outside congressional offices and released short web advertisements targeting Republican economic plans. The protests attacked the Romney-Ryan Plan to make permanent the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of Americans. GOP lawmakers who recently voted to extend the tax cuts were also targeted.  The protesters brought with them large five-foot wide checks demonstrating the large sums that would be given to millionaires and billionaires if the Bush tax cuts were extended. The ads and protests were organized by groups including the Alliance for Retired Americans, Americans for Tax Fairness Action Fund, Health Care for America Now, Working America, and others. 

Over 125 Ohioans attended the Ohio Alliance convention in Columbus on Wednesday, then turned words into action, participating in four tax fairness events throughout the state – three at Sen. Rob Portman’s offices and one at Rep. Bill Johnson’s.

September is Healthy Aging Month

With September “Healthy Aging Month,” the National Eye Institute, part of the National Institute of Health, recommends patients over 50 talk to their eye doctors about yearly comprehensive dilated eye exams.  Unlike a basic exam for glasses or contacts, a comprehensive dilated eye exam actually examines the back of your eyes and can catch vision-decreasing eye diseases before symptoms start to show. Eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetic eye disease, and glaucoma can all lead to partial or full sight loss. “By the time symptoms of vision loss are noticeable, the damage is often permanent,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. However, when these diseases are caught early, they can often be treated or repaired before substantial damage occurs to the eye. For more information, tips for finding an eye care professional, or a list of organizations that can help provide financial assistance for eye care, visit the National Eye Institute (NEI) Healthy Eyes website at http://www.nei.nih.gov/agingeye.


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