"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, former 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
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan Releases Anti-Poverty Proposal
On Thursday, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) unveiled a new proposal to overhaul federal anti-poverty programs and shift more control to individual states. Under Ryan’s plan, most of the federal government’s anti-poverty programs, including food stamps and housing vouchers, would be consolidated into a single program that would be overseen more closely at the state level. States would be given block grants from the federal government along with broad discretion on how to spend the money. The federal government would still have to approve state-level plans for allocating the funds. Although Ryan says his current plan will not cut funding, as Chairman of the House Budget Committee he has authored multiple previous budget documents that significantly reduced federal spending on programs aimed at America’s poor. Earlier this year, Rep. Ryan drew fire on the issue when he commented that a “tailspin of culture, in our inner cities” contributed to entrenched poverty. For more on Ryan’s proposal, go to http://tinyurl.com/lmmhd83.
“In April, Rep. Paul Ryan released a budget that would send millions of seniors straight into poverty,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance. “For him to now pretend he has the solution to the poverty problem in America is ludicrous.”
Medicare Pilot Program Scraps Hospital Stay Requirement for Skilled Nursing Care
In a pilot program created under the provisions of the Affordable Care Act, some Medicare patients are being exempted from a controversial requirement that seniors be admitted to the hospital for at least three days in order to qualify for coverage of follow-up skilled nursing facility (SNF) care. The requirement has drawn scrutiny in recent months as thousands of Medicare patients have discovered they were ineligible for coverage of medically necessary skilled nursing care as a result of spending time in the hospital under “observation status.” Patients held under observation status are considered outpatients during hospital stays. According to The Washington Post, in the last six years the number of observation status patients ineligible for Medicare-covered SNF care has increased by 88%. Medicare officials say that the pilot program may be expanded nationwide if it leads to improved care and cost savings. For more on the program, go to http://tinyurl.com/nak9hgb.
“The abuse of ‘observation status’ should not stand between seniors and medically necessary care. By removing the hospital stay requirement, this program will hopefully improve seniors’ access to the Medicare benefits they have earned,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance.
Members of Congress Form Medicaid Expansion Caucus
Thirty-three members of Congress have joined together to form the State Medicaid Expansion Caucus chaired by Reps. Hank Johnson (D-GA) and G.K. Butterfield (D-NC). Caucus members will speak regularly on the House floor about the importance of expanding Medicaid and will be urging constituents to press state legislatures to take up the issue. Although the Affordable Care Act made federal funds available for states to expand Medicaid rolls in order to provide health coverage to millions of low-income Americans, the Supreme Court later ruled that states may opt out of the Medicaid expansion. Twenty-three states have so far refused to accept federal money to expand the health care program. “By refusing to expand Medicaid, these state governments are denying health care to millions of our most vulnerable citizens and hurting their own state economies,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. To read an op-ed from Rep. Johnson on the issue, go to http://tinyurl.com/lb2n88y.
Senate Committee Examines Social Security Disability Insurance
On Thursday, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing entitled “Social Security: A Fresh Look at Workers’ Disability Insurance,” examining the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. Witness testimony focused on the importance of SSDI in the lives of disabled workers along with growth and financing challenges for the program. In his opening remarks, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) warned of attempts by Republicans to dismantle the broader Social Security system through attacks on the SSDI program. Around 8.9 million disabled American workers receive SSDI benefits, with an average benefit of around $1145 a month. To read Sen. Brown’s full opening statement to the committee, go to http://tinyurl.com/krvw4l3.
Next Week: Social Security and Medicare Trustees Report, Medicare’s 49th Birthday
On Monday, July 28th, the Social Security and Medicare Board of Trustees will release their annual report on the current and projected financial outlooks for the two programs. The report will provide long term projections for the financial health of the programs stretching 75 years into the future. Last year’s report projected that the Social Security trust fund would be able to maintain current benefits levels through 2033 while the Medicare Trust Fund, which covers hospital care, was projected to fully cover benefits through 2026 – two years later than forecast the previous year. The Alliance will issue a statement on Monday in response to this year’s projections. Also next week: Activists will celebrate Medicare’s 49th birthday with events across the country!
Vote for Illinois Alliance Member Katie Jordan as Your Hero
Illinois Alliance member Katie Jordan was recently honored with a tribute written by her youngest granddaughter, Alitra ‘A.J.’ Jordan. In the piece, Alitra describes her grandmother’s trail-blazing life including experiences as the first African-American woman elected to the posts of secretary, vice-president, and president of her local union (Workers United/SEIU). Alitra’s story has been submitted to an online contest looking for inspiring stories about grandparents. To read the story and cast a vote for “Granny Honey” as your hero, go to http://tinyurl.com/k9t67w3.
California Alliance Member Charlie Williams Passes Away
Charles F. (“Charlie”) Williams, a beloved member of the California Alliance and the former Chairman of the Field Mobilization Committee for the national Alliance, passed away on Sunday at the age of 83. “Charlie was a founding member of the Alliance, and he had a lot of friends with us both in Washington and in California,” said Mr. Fiesta. “He was instrumental in establishing many state Alliances and getting us off the ground. Our deepest condolences go out to his family.” For a photo of Charlie, go to http://tinyurl.com/lxwmnau.
Fiesta Attends APWU Retirees Conference
Mr. Fiesta traveled to Chicago on Saturday for the American Postal Workers Retirees Conference.
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