February 28, 2014
U.S. Ranks Just 19th in Retirement Security Worldwide
U.S. retirees are facing worse conditions for their golden years than retired workers in many other developed countries — from Canada and the United Kingdom to South Korea, CNN reports. The U.S. ranked 19th in retirement security for the second year in a row, according to information from Natixis Global Asset Management that ranked 150 countries based on health care, finances, economic well-being and quality of life factors. European countries took eight of the top 10 spots, lifted by strong social programs for seniors. Number 1 Switzerland, for instance, is known for its strong public and private pension system. In contrast, American workers increasingly have to save for retirement on their own or through workplace 401(k) plans, while high health care costs remain an added burden. More at http://tinyurl.com/lfg23ns.
“A nation as wealthy as the U.S should be doing better than 19th,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance. “I see in these numbers more proof that we need to expand Social Security.” The Alliance fully supports the Strengthening Social Security Act of 2013 (S.567), introduced by Tom Harkin (D-IA) in the U.S. Senate, and its companion bill H.R. 3118, introduced by Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA) in the House. The legislation would increase annual Social Security benefits by an average of $800. It also improves the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) calculations by using a formula that reflects the cost of goods and services typically used by older Americans and ensures the Social Security Trust Fund remains solvent for years to come.
Virginia Alliance Member Joins Sen. Chris Murphy in Support of Affordable Care Act
On Wednesday, U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) launched a coordinated effort in Congress to highlight the positive effects that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is having on millions of low- and middle-income Americans. Over the past four years, the law has provided health insurance coverage and new benefits to millions, reduced their overall cost of care, and reduced federal health spending. More than 6 million Americans have signed up for health insurance since 2010. Many say that Republicans in Congress have worked to sabotage the ACA by attempting to block implementation and deny funding for critical provisions of the law. At the Wednesday event, senators highlighted the impact the law has had on seniors across the U.S. Please tell us your story about affordable health care here: http://bit.ly/1gHdg34!
Virginia Alliance member Ken Pease joined the five senators, stating, “The Affordable Care Act is important, because it gives me peace of mind to know that my drug costs will be lower than they would have been without it. Repealing the health care law would send my prescription drug costs right back up again.” Photos at http://tinyurl.com/ooby3ve. Paul Krugman wrote this week in The New York Times about the multitude of false stories propagated by opponents of health care reform in an effort to make their case. Read the article at http://tinyurl.com/nxwu4vk.
Rep. John Dingell Announces his Retirement after Record 58 Years in Congress
U.S. Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), at 87 the longest-serving member of Congress in American history, announced his retirement on Monday. Dingell, a fierce protector of Detroit’s auto industry, is the former chairman of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee. He has served with every president since Dwight D. Eisenhower. In September, 2006, Rep. Dingell received the Alliance’s Leadership Award for a career dedicated to the health care and economic justice of retirees. He had presided over the House vote to pass Medicare in 1965. For a video of Rep. Dingell with that day’s gavel, go to http://tinyurl.com/k5lxubl.
“Rep. Dingell has been a great friend to seniors ever since he was first elected in a 1955 special election to replace his late father,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance.
Democratic Rep. Ed Pastor (D-AZ), also won’t seek reelection in 2014, he announced Thursday. Last week, both Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) and Rep. Gloria Negrete McLeod (D-CA) announced that they will not be seeking another term in Congress. The full list of members who will not be returning to their seats can be found on the Roll Call Casualty List at http://tinyurl.com/mhfd3l.
Pentagon Budget Could Hurt Military Retirees
On Monday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel outlined in great detail the Pentagon’s plan to save money while emphasizing special operations and technology by calling for a smaller Army, changes in pay, and the elimination of some aircraft, weapons and bases. The budget calls for a 1% pay increase for most troops. However, generals and admirals would receive a one-year pay freeze. Hagel said he wants to slow the growth of housing allowances and require active-duty and retired members of the military to make a larger contribution to their health care costs in the TRICARE program. Future pay and pension questions will be handled by the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission, which is expected to issue its report in a year.
Nebraska Takes Center Stage in Medicaid Expansion Debate
With more red states moving toward adopting the expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare, Americans United for Change is targeting a series of radio ads in a place that could actually do it: Nebraska. The spots contrast Gov. Dave Heineman’s (R) request for a new $3.3 million state plane with his refusal to pay the state’s relatively minor share of the cost to expand Medicaid. A bipartisan bill to expand Medicaid and cover an additional 54,000 Nebraskans is pending in the legislature, but it is several votes short of the 33 needed to break a procedural hurdle. The 33 votes would also be enough to override a veto, if Heineman were to reject the measure (http://tinyurl.com/mmvdeqc).
“Several states with Republican governors or state legislatures still might expand Medicaid, despite initial objections,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. “…Nebraska, Arkansas, and Maine, just to name three.”
Texas Alliance Stands up for Minimum Wage Hike, Illinois for Nursing Home Safety
A Daily Kos blog post highlights an event at which Texas Alliance activists joined a downtown Dallas demonstration in favor of increasing the minimum wage at http://tinyurl.com/mgdlw4w. For a photo of Illinois Alliance members protesting GOP gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner’s ties to dangerous nursing homes, go to http://tinyurl.com/nbje5r9.