April 08, 2011

Republican Budget Would Drastically Alter Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security

On Tuesday, House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-WI) released a proposal to cut more than $4 trillion in federal spending over the next decade through drastic changes to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Ryan’s plan privatizes Medicare, turning it over to health insurance companies. Seniors who currently rely on the federal government for Medicare benefits would be given coupons for a fixed dollar amount, and then forced to fend for themselves in the private health insurance market.  Moreover, the dollar amount of this voucher is unlikely to keep pace with medical costs, or one’s changing medical condition.  The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office projects that Ryan’s plan would have seniors paying $20,000 a year for Medicare in 2030, or 68% of the total cost of their coverage.  That amount is currently 25%.

Medicaid would be, in Washington terms, “block granted,” that is turned over, with few strings attached, to state governors.  “After what we have seen this year, why would we want to put affordable access to nursing homes and long-term care into the hands of Scott Walker, John Kasich, Mitch Daniels, or Chris Christie?  Seniors better pray for good health,” said Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance.

The Ryan plan would also create new federal budget rules to quietly start a “trigger” that could soon lead to Social Security benefit cuts and a higher retirement age.  A legal provision would cut Social Security benefits once spending on the program rises above a certain level, which would be as soon as the Baby Boomers are beginning to retire. For more on how the Ryan plan would harm current and future seniors, go to http://bit.ly/fCklaP.

At a Capitol Hill press conference on Tuesday, Mr. Coyle joined Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL) and leaders of other senior advocacy organizations in denouncing the Ryan blueprint. On Wednesday, Coyle joined Reps. John Larson (CT), Jan Schakowsky (IL), David Cicilline (RI), Mark Critz (PA), and Ted Deutch (FL), as well as California Reps. Doris Matsui, Lucille Roybal-Allard, Laura Richardson, and Henry Waxman at a House Democratic Caucus Seniors Task Force event highlighting the impact of the Ryan cuts.

Government Shutdown Would Affect Social Security Offices

As the threat of a government shutdown grows close to becoming a reality, Congress has yet to produce a spending plan for the rest of the current fiscal year that both sides can agree upon. If there is a shutdown, all non-essential government employees will have to stay home from work; the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will not issue tax refund checks; passport applications would not be processed; and federal courts would face serious disruptions. Additionally, Social Security offices across the country would have to close their doors, which would result in a backlog of benefit applications, phones going unanswered, and new beneficiaries facing a delay in receiving their benefits. To protest the effect that the shutdown would have on seniors and the disabled, Alliance members in Iowa, Arizona, and other states across the country joined the American Federation of Government Employees this week to protest outside Social Security Administration offices.

Florida Alliance Members Turn out Across the State to Stop Governor Rick Scott

The Florida Alliance, together with the national Alliance and AFSCME, turned people out for multiple events around the state this week protesting Governor Rick Scott’s (R) push to take people off Medicaid and force them into HMOs – while restricting their ability to sue for the lack of care that would likely follow. Events took place in cities including Orlando, West Palm Beach, and Jacksonville.

Still Time to Enroll in the Alliance’s Retiree Health Plan

The Alliance’s Retiree Health Plan Open Enrollment Period has been extended. All Medicare-eligible retirees and spouses are guaranteed acceptance with no waiting periods, through April 30, 2011, regardless of pre-existing health conditions!  This Open Enrollment Period is ending soon, so call now to get your enrollment information in the mail or to enroll by phone before it is too late. Call (866) 298-9117 for further details, to request your free information kit, or to enroll over the phone today.  You can also visit www.araretireehealth.com to get more information.

Barbara Easterling Addresses Transport Workers Union

Alliance President Barbara J. Easterling spoke in DC on Tuesday to the legislative conference of the Transport Workers Union (TWU). During her remarks, Ms. Easterling asked, “Can you imagine if we asked workers – particularly those in the physically demanding jobs TWU members do – to work until 70?” She was referring to a recommendation made by U.S. House SpeakerJohn Boehner (R-OH).

“We Are One” Events: A Reminder That Collective Bargaining is a Civil Right

Monday, April 4, marked the 43rd anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. To commemorate the legacy of Dr. King, Alliance members across the country joined their labor union brothers and sisters at “We Are One” rallies, marches, and sit-ins. The events also protested recent attacks on public workers’ collective bargaining rights. King had been protesting for collective bargaining rights for sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee just before he was assassinated. “Martin Luther King’s unrelenting dedication to making sure all Americans receive justice and equality serves as an inspiration to all Americans,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance

Did You Know…
According to Bloomberg Businessweek’s cover story, “The More You Make, The Less You Pay.” For the 400 U.S. taxpayers with the highest adjusted gross incomes, the effective federal income tax rate fell from almost 30% in 1995 to just under 17% in 2007, according to the IRS. And for the approximately 1.4 million people who make up the top 1% of taxpayers, the effective federal income tax rate dropped from 29% to 23% in 2008. Therefore. the top 400 earners end up paying a lower rate than the next 1,399,600 or so! (Politico)

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