President Obama Issues Proclamation Honoring Older Americans Month

May 03, 2013


May is Older Americans Month, when communities around the country come together to honor seniors. In the proclamation issued by the White House, President Obama notes the contributions retirees make to the country through volunteer programs such as Senior Corps.  You can read the proclamation at http://tinyurl.com/cgsrorp.

“Older Americans Month provides all Americans with an opportunity to recognize the contributions of seniors,” said Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance. “By working to expand the opportunities that retirees have to get involved in volunteer service, the Obama administration is helping seniors stay active in their communities.”

Republicans Less Open about Support for Benefit Cuts to Social Security, Medicare

Reining in spending on Social Security and Medicare remains an important policy goal for the GOP, according to The Washington Post. However, Republican members of Congress are becoming increasingly ambivalent about their party’s demand to cut Social Security and Medicare. While Republican Party leaders state that these cuts remain a major goal of the party, they are currently choosing to be more vocal about other issues, such as tax reform. Republican Representatives admit that they are concerned about losing the votes of seniors in their districts due to their support of the benefit cuts, and therefore do not want to make these cuts a prominent talking point. To read the Washington Post story on the issue, go to http://tinyurl.com/cl7qx3q.

“Republicans are realizing that seniors will not sit by quietly while vital programs like Social Security and Medicare are cut,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance. “While this is unfortunately largely a change in rhetoric and prioritization, not a change in position, it is a signal that members of Congress are learning how great the political cost will be to them if they cut our benefits. We must continue to remind them regularly.”

Leadership Council of Aging Organizations Expresses Concern over Obama Budget

The Leadership Council of Aging Organizations, a coalition of 68 nonprofit organizations (including the Alliance for Retired Americans) which work on issues impacting seniors, sent a letter to President Obama on Monday. In the letter, LCAO expresses concerns with several aspects of Obama’s Fiscal Year 2014 budget, including chained CPI and proposals that shift certain Medicare costs towards beneficiaries. The letter also praises some aspects of the budget, including a provision that would allow Medicare to negotiate the prices of prescription drugs with pharmaceutical companies. To read the letter, go to http://tinyurl.com/coc6x54.

“The Leadership Council of Aging Organizations, which represents a broad range of groups working to protect seniors, has taken a strong stance against chained CPI and Medicare cost shifting,” said Mr. Coyle. “We are hopeful that President Obama and members of his administration will heed the letter’s advice.”

Cancer Physicians Campaign to Make Lifesaving Medications More Affordable

One hundred cancer specialists from around the world have banded together in support of an important cause: protesting the extremely high cost of many drugs used to treat cancer. Currently, the cost of some cancer drugs is over $100,000 a year. According to the doctors, these drugs can make a huge difference in patient outcomes but are often unaffordable. The physicians also point out that the drugs are priced much higher than they need to be for pharmaceutical companies to turn a reasonable level of profit, and that the companies have crossed the line into exploiting patients. To read a New York Times article about the story, go to http://tinyurl.com/bnofsj7.

“The Alliance strongly supports the effort to reduce the cost of cancer drugs,” said Ms. Easterling. “When pharmaceutical companies charge exorbitant prices for life-saving medications, it places a huge burden on seniors and programs like Medicare and Medicaid.”

Seniors - Especially Men - are at Higher Risk as Pedestrians!

Pedestrians account for 13% of all motor-vehicle traffic deaths, even though walking accounts for just 10.5% of trips. The risk of pedestrian death increases slowly through life and peaks with people over age 75, who are more than twice as likely to be killed by a car than are people overall. The results were published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (http://tinyurl.com/bn6g6p8).  Men were found to be twice as likely as women to be killed as pedestrians. This may be due to men walking more often than women, as well as alcohol consumption, Laurie Beck, an epidemiologist who led the study says. Read the NPR story at http://tinyurl.com/bnqnll2.

AFL-CIO, Union Plus Offer “Dreams of Jobs and Freedom Scholarship” Program

At the February AFL-CIO Executive Council meeting, leaders decided to commemorate the Fiftieth Anniversary of the March on Washington.  One of the ways this is being implemented is the authorization of the AFL-CIO and Union Plus “Dreams of Jobs and Freedom Scholarship” program. The AFL-CIO has partnered with the Union Privilege program to offer $5,000 scholarships to help talented high school seniors from families in need—including union families and those in the community—to help pay for the costs of higher education. The children and grandchildren of union members are eligible to apply. “The AFL-CIO has created a website where students can apply directly: www.aflcio.org/scholarship,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. “If you know any good candidate, please tell them applications are due by July 1, 2013.”

Help the Post Office with Their Financial Problems While Saving Saturday Delivery!

Help fix the immediate fiscal problems of the Postal Service by ending the pre-funding mandate and allowing the Postal Service to recover pension overpayments.  The Postal Service Protection Act solves the most immediate financial problem facing the Postal Service by eliminating the unique requirement that the postal service pre-fund 75 years of future retiree health benefits in just 10 years.  No other agency or company in America is required to pre-fund its retiree health benefits, especially on such an aggressive schedule.  Since 2007, this pre-funding mandate is responsible for about 80 percent of the Postal Service’s financial difficulties. The bill, introduced by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), would also save Saturday delivery - which seniors rely on for their medications and other needs. Go to http://wh.gov/t95i  to sign the petition (Step-by-step instructions are at http://tinyurl.com/bmqvmvg.) For more background on the bill, go to http://tinyurl.com/cxk8jco.

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