Retirees Observe 50th Anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s March on Washington

August 23, 2013

August 28th, 2013 marks the 50th Anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s historic march on Washington. In commemoration of the anniversary, Washington, DC will host a week of events dedicated to Rev. King’s vision of equality, freedom, and justice. Alliance members from around the country will be participating in the march, and many of them will be traveling great distances to do so. Tony Fransetta, President of the Florida Alliance, will travel 1,000 miles and 36 hours round-trip to attend. Speakers at the Saturday rally will include House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA); Rep. John Lewis (D-GA); Lee Saunders, President of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME); Mary Kay Henry, President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU); Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT); and Rev. Al Sharpton. For more, go to http://tinyurl.com/lr5nobp.

This Week Designated as Time to Focus on Health Care Reform Benefits for Seniors
Organizations working to educate the public about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have designated this week to focus on seniors and ACA benefits. The organizations include Know Your Care, Protect Your Care, and Enroll America. Thanks to the ACA, Medicare beneficiaries are eligible for a free yearly medical checkup and preventative screenings. The law also gradually closes the Medicare “doughnut hole” that has forced many seniors to pay exorbitant drug costs. Additionally, the new health law has extended the life of Medicare by 9 years.

“It is great to see more and more seniors understanding the implications of the health care law, particularly since those ideologically opposed to the Affordable Care Act continue to confuse many Americans by spreading harmful misinformation about the law,” said Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance. “We encourage our members to reach out to their friends and family to educate them on why the ACA is good for seniors and all Americans.” Go to http://tinyurl.com/mg4gjgb to view an Alliance fact sheet about the myths and facts of the Affordable Care Act. For a Spanish language version, go to http://tinyurl.com/ms9yax2. For the latest information from the White House on how Obamacare helps you, go to http://tinyurl.com/krj7mds.

New Report Exposes Fatal Flaws in Proposals to Cut Benefits for Older Americans
Scott Lilly
, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, has released a new report entitled “Slash Retirement Benefits or Raise Taxes? The Choice Congress Won’t Face Up To.” The report lays out just how devastating the benefit cuts proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) budget and similar proposals would be to seniors. Ryan’s budget would replace Medicare with privately run insurance and give seniors a fixed amount of money with which to buy insurance. Lilly’s findings show that due to the increase in health care costs and the higher costs associated with private insurance compared to Medicare, the Ryan plan would cause health care expenses to consume an ever growing share of Social Security checks. By 2033, an average beneficiary’s entire Social Security check would go towards medical costs. Read the report at http://tinyurl.com/m684moz.

“This report makes it crystal clear that Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan would force seniors to choose between buying groceries, keeping a roof over their heads, and acquiring needed medical care,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. “Rather than cutting already modest benefits, it’s really time to make the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share.”

Seniors’ Hospital Discharge Instructions Are Often Inadequate
A new study from the Yale School of Medicine found that many seniors who are admitted to hospitals receive confusing discharge information that leaves them unable to fully understand their own medical condition and how to seek follow-up care. According to the study, which followed 395 patients over the age of 65, only 60 percent of patients who had just been discharged were able to correctly describe their diagnosis. Only two-thirds of patients said that they had been asked about what type of support they had at home before being discharged. In some cases, their instructions used medical terms such as “myocardial infarction” in place of much better known terms such as “heart attack.” Reuters has more on the study at http://tinyurl.com/kjzdxcm. “Hospitals must work to accurately communicate with seniors about their medical needs,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance. “Discharge instructions should be written in clear language and thoroughly discussed with patients.”

Washington State Alliance Holds its Convention
The Washington State Alliance for Retired Americans (WSARA) held its 2013 Annual Convention on Wednesday at the Joint Council of Teamsters Hall in Tukwila. The nearly 100 delegates greeted Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), who discussed the looming budget situation and how it could affect Social Security and Medicare. The WSARA delegates also heard from Eva Dominguez, Legislative Representative of the Alliance for Retired Americans, on the national budget showdown and what’s at stake for retirees – now and in the future. Steve Kelly, Political Director for Teamster’s Local 252, was elected the new WSARA President.  Mr. Kelly was formerly the organization’s Secretary. The new Secretary is Jerri Wood, and Jackie Boschok is the new Treasurer.

“On behalf of the national Alliance, I want to join WSARA members in thanking Mike Warren for all his years serving as their President,” said Ms. Easterling. “Mike’s commitment to WSARA and the issues of seniors can never be surpassed. His leadership and passion for WSARA and its members will be forever appreciated. Additionally, I want to deliver a big thank-you to Kathy Wallentine, who stepped in as ‘interim’ treasurer last November. Kathy kept the WSARA treasury safe and strong.” For photos from the convention, go to http://tinyurl.com/krwr6ss.

Coyle Speaks at DNC’s Senior Coordinating Council Meeting
Mr. Coyle speaks today at the Democratic National Committee’s Seniors Coordinating Council Meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona. The Council was organized in the early 1990's so that the national Democratic Party could hear directly from senior leaders and activists on issues important to retirees and older Americans. Other speakers are expected to include: Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL), who is also DNC Chair; Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (Baltimore, MD), DNC Secretary; and several other noteworthy guests.


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