January 14, 2011

Shootings in Tucson are Personal for the Alliance

Doctors said on Thursday that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) is making a miraculous recovery after being shot in the head in an assassination attempt that killed six and left 13 others wounded. According to USA Today, Giffords, 40, is opening her eyes, responding to commands, and moving both of her legs and arms. “Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has been a great friend to seniors,” said Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance. “Many Alliance members in Arizona know the congresswoman and her staff personally, and we wish her a full recovery. Our thoughts and prayers are with the loved ones of those who did not make it, as well as all of those who are still recovering.” On September 28, 2010, Rep. Giffords introduced a resolution opposing any increase in the Social Security retirement age, noting that any increase in the age equates to an unfair decrease in benefits.

Among those who died in the horrible Tucson shooting of Rep. Giffords were three retirees:Dorothy Morris, 76; Phyllis Schneck, 79; and Dorwin Stoddard, 76. Also killed was Gabe Zimmerman, 30, who was the director of community outreach for Giffords and was engaged to be married. He handled thousands of issues raised by constituents out of the congresswoman’s offices in Tucson and Sierra Vista. Arizona Alliance President Doug Hart knew Zimmerman. “He just had a heart for people,” said Hart. “Everybody loved the guy, and that’s a hard thing for a young man to pull off with seniors. I remember telling him I’ve been married for 42 years and he said he hoped he could be married that long.” A fifth shooting victim who died, John Roll, 63, was named Arizona’s chief federal judge in 2006.  He had won acclaim for a career as a respected jurist and leader who had pushed to beef up the court’s strained bench to handle a growing number of border crime-related cases. The youngest victim, Christina Taylor Green, was only 9.

“There is no place for violence in politics – or anywhere in a civilized society. As a nation, we must be sure that seniors are not deterred from meeting face-to-face with their elected officials due to fear, or due to proposed access restrictions that result from this crime,” Alliance Secretary-Treasurer Ruben Burks said.

Health Care Repeal Vote Next Wednesday!

After delaying a vote in the House of Representatives to repeal the health care reform law in the wake of the shootings in Tucson, the U.S. House Republican leadership announced on Thursday that the House will debate H.R. 2, the repeal bill, next Tuesday and Wednesday, January 18 and 19. The House will begin debate Tuesday evening, and the vote will occur on Wednesday evening.  The Alliance sent a blast fax today to all members of the House opposing H.R. 2. The letter states that repealing the law will negatively impact America’s seniors in the following specific ways:

• Revokes significant drug discounts for Medicare beneficiaries who fall in the Part D doughnut hole;

• Revokes free annual check-ups and preventive screenings;

• Revokes subsidies for employers who provide health care coverage for their retirees; and

• Revokes Medicaid options that allow older Americans with chronic conditions to live at home rather than in institutions.

Furthermore, the 2010 law extends Medicare solvency by 12 years and cuts the federal deficit by $230 billion the first ten years – and by more than $1 trillion in the next decade.  Therefore, repealing the law would be detrimental to Medicare’s finances and add to the nation’s deficit. To view the letter, go to http://bit.ly/ht1vqN. On Tuesday, January 18, look for a pass through e-mail letter in your own in-box, so that you can send a letter to your member of Congress opposing the repeal bill with one click.

State of the Union: Defending Social Security

Last Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press, Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) said that means testing or raising the retirement age was a “backdoor method” of going after Social Security. He scolded those who would like to cut Social Security and said, “One of the things that always troubles me is when we start talking about the debt, the first thing people do is run to Social Security…Stop picking on Social Security.”

Alliance President Barbara J. Easterling said, “I commend Senator Harry Reid for again taking a strong stand on Social Security. Even though Social Security by law cannot be part of the deficit, too many of his colleagues in Washington would have you believe otherwise.”

On Tuesday, January 25th, the President’s annual State of the Union Address will air across the country. President Obama has supported the Alliance position on Social Security in the past – no benefit cuts, no raising the retirement age, no cuts in the COLA and no privatization, which only benefits Wall Street. President Obama may address critical retiree issues such as Social Security and Medicare when he delivers his speech. Use the guide here http://bit.ly/fXUmt2 to verify that President Obama keeps his Social Security promises in the State of the Union Address, and keep making sure that your own Member of Congress does, too! Watch parties for Alliance members are already planned in Tempe and Tucson, Arizona [ http://on.fb.me/go74Ab ] and other locations. If you are interested in hosting a watch party of your own, please click herehttp://bit.ly/ezVRam and contact araorganizing@retiredamericans.org to let us know.

Verna Porter Appointed to Oregon Governor’s Commission on Senior Services

Oregon Alliance board member Verna Porter, who’s been a health care activist since retiring as a geriatric nurse, has been appointed to the Governor’s Commission on Senior Services. A retiree with a long list of political accomplishments, she previously helped SEIU organize home health care workers so they could become licensed and receive training. “I’m concerned about the well being of older people; they need to have a healthy lifestyle whether they’re living at home or in a care center,” said Ms. Porter.

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