March 25, 2011

Alliance Commemorates One-Year Anniversary of Health Care Reform

Wednesday, March 23 was the one-year anniversary of President Obama’s signing of the Affordable Care Act – the nation’s historic health care reform law – and Alliance activists held events around the country this week to mark the occasion. Members also wrote their elected officials in support of the many new benefits that help retirees better afford to see a doctor and fill a prescription, sending over 10,600 messages this week to Congress and governors opposing any efforts to block or weaken key provisions of the law.  The Alliance also ran a full-page ad inRoll Call [ http://bit.ly/eGHFEg ] praising the law for lowering the cost of prescription drugs; eliminating co-pays and deductibles for preventive tests and screenings; providing a free annual wellness visit with a doctor; and helping early retirees keep their health care coverage.  The ad notes that the law extends the solvency of the Medicare Trust Fund for 12 years by eliminating wasteful subsidies to big insurance corporations.

“It is imperative that Congress help America’s seniors by preserving these benefits,” said Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance, adding, “After years of Medicare taking better care of insurance companies than retirees, we’ve finally begun to move in the right direction.  Repealing these new benefits would hurt the health and well-being of America’s seniors.”

The Alliance held grassroots anniversary events this week in: Pittsburgh (with U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [HHS] Secretary Kathleen Sebelius); St. Louis (with HHS Assistant Secretary for Aging Kathy Greenlee); Toledo; Chicago; Oakland; Albuquerque; Phoenix; Columbia, South Carolina; and Las Vegas and Carson City, Nevada. For more information on Alliance activities and fact sheets on health reform, visit http://bit.ly/cQTDL9. For a photo from the Chicago event, which included a birthday cake complete with candles, go to http://bit.ly/hfxIYp.

Retirees Protest Budget Cuts at Wisconsin State Capitol

During their 4th biennial convention, members of the Wisconsin Alliance for Retired Americans (WIARA) unanimously approved a resolution condemning Governor Scott Walker (R) for his drastic budget cuts. The resolution denounced the governor’s proposed budget for going after essential programs like SeniorCare, BadgerCare, the WI Department of Veterans Affairs, transit aid, the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Homestead Tax Credit, and public education. After approving the resolution, members of the WIARA marched to the Wisconsin capitol and WIARA President Leon Burzynski hand-delivered the resolution to the Governor’s office. Burzynski then re-joined his fellow retiree activists outside of the capitol building for a demonstration and proclaimed, “The governor claims that we’re going to save $15 million…to us, that’s a $15 million tax on seniors.”  News clip here: http://bit.ly/erYGaq.

Barbara J. Easterling, President of the national Alliance, was on hand to commend the Wisconsin retiree activists for the work that they have been doing. She thanked them for inspiring people all over the world. She also warned, “Just as we cannot trust Gov. Walker with our rights at work, we cannot trust Wall Street with our Social Security, nor can we trust the big insurance companies with our Medicare.” John Nichols, journalist for The Nation, Executive Editor of theCap Times and author of several books, addressed his friends at the Wisconsin Alliance about media relations and encouraged them to harness online media networks. Laura Markwardt from the national Alliance addressed the convention on online organizing and new media.

Hands off Social Security!

Next week will provide several chances for retiree activists to show their support for Social Security and voice their opposition to cuts that will weaken the program. On Monday, March 28th at 12:30 pm, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) will host a rally to protect Social Security. Senator Reid is the co-sponsor of legislation that would prohibit the U.S. Senate from making changes to Social Security unless a two-thirds majority approves them. Reid has said that the program “…is not in crisis at this stage. Leave Social Security alone.” The rally will take place on Capitol Hill, in Room SDG-50 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building.

If you do not live near Washington DC, or if you are unable to attend the rally, you can still voice your opinion by participating in the “Hands off Social Security” national call-in days. On Tuesday, March 29th and Wednesday, March 30th, retiree activists from all over the country are asked to call their U.S. Senators to make sure they know retirees will not stand by and watch as the Senate tries to reduce or weaken Social Security. Dial 1-866-251-4044 and say, “Hands off Social Security! Vote YES on the Sanders-Reid Social Security Protection Amendment!”

Alliance Events along the East Coast: New Hampshire, Maine, and Florida

On Monday, New Hampshire Alliance members attended discussions in Concord and Nashua with Nancy J. Altman, co-founder of the coalition Strengthen Social Security.  Altman is one of the nation’s foremost experts on Social Security and was Alan Greenspan’s assistant as he chaired the Greenspan Commission in 1982. She currently chairs the board of the Pension Rights Center, a nonprofit devoted to protecting the rights of beneficiaries. She debunked the myths surrounding Social Security’s future while in New Hampshire, and then held a similar event attended by Alliance members at the University of Southern Maine in Portland on Tuesday.

Also this past Tuesday, Florida Alliance (FLARA) members rallied at the Capitol Rotunda in Tallahassee in support of senior housing bills, and they thanked Florida legislators for defending Florida’s Retirement System. The members were in town for the Florida Alliance’s Legislative Conference and Quarterly Executive Board Meeting that took place on Monday and Tuesday.Eva Dominguez, Legislative Representative for the national Alliance, spoke at FLARA’s press conference in support of Florida’s public employees and condemned those who would penalize dedicated government workers for the mismanagement of previous Administrations.

Alliance Convention: September 6 – 9, 2011

Help us mark our 10-year Anniversary at our upcoming Legislative Conference, Celebrating Our Past, Fighting for Your Future, on September 6 – 9, 2011 in Washington, D.C.! Take part in the discussion on the direction that our country should take concerning Social Security and pensions. Workshops will include, among others: Barbarians STILL at the Gate: Social Security and Entitlement “Reform”; Everyday Activities to Help Build Your State Alliance Budget; and How to Organize On-Line. Any questions, please contact Joni Jones, Event Coordinator, at 202-637-5377.

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