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Showing posts from March, 2012

Friday Alert March 30, 2012

Seniors, Others Await Fate of Health Reform as Supreme Court Hears Arguments
Seniors were among the many supporters and opponents of the 2010 health care law keeping a close eye on the Supreme Court this week, as the court heard oral arguments on the case to overturn the Affordable Care Act. At the center of the case is whether the mandate to buy health insurance is constitutional. In arguing their side in the press, supporters of the law highlighted all of the benefits that millions of Americans have received thanks to the law’s provisions. The Maryland/DC Alliance for Retired Americans was one of several organizations present at the front of the Supreme Court this week, and their members expressed their confidence that the law is constitutional. The court’s ruling, which is set to come in June, could change the interpretation of Congress’ scope of power and have major implications for modern government.

Should health care reform be struck down, seniors risk losing many o…

Navy Memories

United Methodists Speak Out

Stand Up For Medicare

USW Calls for Full Investigation

                          USW Calls for Full Investigation into Tragic Florida Shooting

The United Steelworkers (USW) International Executive Board released the following statement today on the tragic shooting death of a Florida teenager last month:

The United Steelworkers (USW) union is relieved that the U.S. Justice Department announced this week that it would intervene to investigate the Feb. 26 slaying of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford City, Florida after local police failed to act. The local chief has contended a state law allows a person who feels threatened to impose with impunity self-determined, self-initiated capital punishment.

“While it is a good first step that the chief has voluntarily stepped aside, we’re still a long way from achieving justice in this case” said USW International Vice President Fred Redmond.

Mr. Martin, an unarmed youth walking home from a convenience store, was shot to death by 28-year-old George Zimmerman, who was charged in 2005 with resisting…

Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert March 23, 2012 edition

Alliance Draws Attention to Benefits for Seniors on Affordable Care Act Anniversary

The Alliance marked today’s two-year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by holding 26 community events around the country, spotlighting new Medicare benefits and educating seniors on where elected officials and candidates stand on health reform. “The Affordable Care Act is helping seniors across the nation better afford to see a doctor and fill a prescription. The 3.6 million seniors with the highest drug costs have already saved an average of $600 on their prescriptions. Thirty-two million seniors have received free, life-saving tests for chronic diseases. The law is closing the ‘doughnut hole’ coverage gap in Medicare Part D, an egregious example of pharmaceutical company profits being placed ahead of the health care needs of our seniors,” said Barbara J. Easterling, the Alliance’s President. To read her full statement, go to

In St. Louis, Missouri Alliance members wer…

Affordable Care Act, Closing the Medicare Doughnut Hole

Affordable Care Act, Preventive Services

Two Years Later: ACA for Indiana

Two Years Later: The Benefits of the Affordable Care Act for Indiana
For too long, too many hardworking Americans paid the price for policies that handed free rein to insurance companies and put barriers between patients and their doctors. The Affordable Care Act gives hardworking families in Indiana the security they deserve. The new health care law forces insurance companies to play by the rules, prohibiting them from dropping your coverage if you get sick, billing you into bankruptcy because of an annual or lifetime limit, or, soon, discriminating against anyone with a pre-existing condition.
All Americans will have the security of knowing that they don’t have to worry about losing coverage if they’re laid off or change jobs. And insurance companies now have to cover your preventive care like mammograms and other cancer screenings. The new law also makes a significant investment in State and community-based efforts that promote public health, prevent disease and protect against p…

House GOP Budget Makes Seniors Pay

For Immediate Release                                           Contact: David Blank (202) 637-5275
March 20, 2012                                                                

House GOP Budget Makes Seniors Pay for Tax Breaks for Corporations, Millionaires

The following statement was issued today by Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, regarding the proposal by U.S. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI).

“The House GOP budget proposal unveiled today lays bare the party’s true colors.  The plan would cut health care for senior citizens in order to pay for more tax breaks for big corporations and for the wealthiest Americans.  It is unconscionable to take from those with the least – seniors trying to afford to see a doctor and fill a prescription – in order to give to those who already have the most.

“The callously cold details of the Ryan budget are hidden behind Washington jargon of ‘premium suppo…

The Road We've Traveled

Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert March 16, 2012 edition

Health Care Reform Marks its Two-Year Anniversary
Next week – March 23 - marks two years since President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) into law and made health care reform a reality. The Alliance is planning almost 30 events across the country to commemorate the anniversary - and the benefits for seniors that come with it. The events are planned for Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas,

Washington and Wisconsin and range from educational forums with experts from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to protests at the offices of Members of Congress who opposed this law. While the whole week will celebrate the anniversary, Monday, March 19 is a day for all seniors to celebrate the ways that the ACA is improving their own lives.

If you would like to participate in an anniversary event, please use the contact information at: “When we hear peopl…

Stinking Basketball

Elaine, it's supper time.
Elaine, it's time for dinner.
Stinking basketball!

Health Care Reform At-A-Glance

Strengthen Medicare by slowing growth in spending

• Adds 7 years of solvency of the Medicare Trust Fund, from current 2017 to about 2024.
• Saves about $450 billion in the first decade, mostly through agreed upon reductions in payment rates for inpatient hospitals, long-term care hospitals, home health services, skilled nursing facilities, and other providers, as well as reduced subsidies to private Medicare Advantage plans.
 • Slows Medicare growth by about 2 percent per capita, annually. Medicare will still be growing faster than the overall economy.
• The Medicare Part B premium for 2012 rose significantly less than projected to $99.90 per month. In addition, the Part B annual deductible decreased by $22 from $162 to $140.

Closes the donut hole in the Part D prescription drug program

• Provided a $250 rebate in 2010 for any senior who fell into the hole, regardless of their income — even those who entered the coverage gap by as little as one dollar received a check for the full $250…

Health Care Reform Timeline

• $250 to every senior entering the donut hole (2010 only)
• Temporary high-risk insurance pool for early retirees
• Background checks on long-term care employees
• Nursing homes required to disclose ownership information
• Student loan programs to boost primary care workforce
Initiatives to root out waste, fraud, and abuse

• Part D prescription drug discounts for seniors in donut hole (50 percent for brand-name drugs and 7 percent for generics)
• Free annual wellness visits and personalized prevention plans
• Preventive care deductibles and copayments eliminated
• Medicare Advantage plan reimbursements frozen
• Medicare Advantage plans prohibited from charging enrollees more than traditional Medicare for chemotherapy administration, skilled nursing home care, and other specialized services
• Creation of new Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Innovation Center
• Means-tested Part D premiums begin; Part B means-tested income thresholds frozen for 10 years
• 10% b…

Health Care Improvements for 50-64 Year Olds

The new health care reform law includes provisions that will help older Americans who are not yet eligible for Medicare have access to affordable health insurance coverage. In addition, it includes provisions to help employers with the costs of providing coverage to early-retirees and older workers.

Limiting Aging Rating of Health Insurance Premiums

The health care reform law establishes a 3:1 ratio for setting health insurance premiums based on age. Currently, older Americans buying health insurance in the individual or small group markets are likely to be charged much more than three times the cost for a younger person.

Reforming Private Insurance for All

The health care reform law includes many reforms to private health insurance that are benefiting Americans of all ages, including older Americans. These reforms include prohibiting coverage denials for preexisting conditions, banning caps on lifetime coverage, ending annual limits on coverage, and prohibiting insurers from dropping c…

Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert March 9, 2012 edition

Romney Wins Six States on Super Tuesday, but Questions Remain

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney won six of the ten states that voted on Tuesday in the race to become the Republican nominee for President. Romney won Ohio, Virginia, Alaska, Massachusetts, Vermont and Idaho, but political analysts focused sharply on his slim margin of victory, 38% - 37%, over the second-place finisher in Ohio, former Sen. Rick Santorum (PA). Santorum won Tennessee, Oklahoma, and North Dakota, while former House Speaker Newt Gingrich won his home state of Georgia. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) did not win in any of the states.

Romney still faces heat over his health care stance during a campaign stop in Ohio on Monday. Supporters and critics alike slam Romney for his muddy explanations on the differences between his 2006 state-mandated health care reform as governor of Massachusetts and President Obama’s 2010 health care overhaul. A resurfacing of his 2009 op-ed article in USA Today highlighted many key be…

The Medicare Advantage Makeover

The new health care law includes important provisions to reduce wasteful Medicare spending. This will strengthen the solvency of the Medicare program and reduce the rate of increase in Part B premiums for all Medicare beneficiaries. The law also seeks to improve the care provided to Medicare Advantage enrollees and to limit their out-of- pocket costs.

Private Medicare Advantage (MA) plans were being paid on average 13 percent more per enrollee than it cost to provide comparable care in traditional Medicare. These subsidies —which cost over $11 billion in 2009 — are paid for by taxpayers and by all beneficiaries, whether or not they are enrolled in a private plan.

Prior to the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, it is estimated that every couple receiving Medicare, including the 75 percent in traditional Medicare, was paying about $90 in additional Part B premiums this year to subsidize those in the private MA plans.

The health care reform law phases down subsidies for MA plans over …

USW Endorses Barack Obama for Re-election as President

(Pittsburgh, Pa.) – The United Steelworkers (USW) International Executive Board today voted unanimously to support President Barack Obama for re-election in November.

“This is the right time to do the right thing for a man who has proved he is right for the job,” said USW International President Leo W. Gerard. “The President has turned around an economy he inherited that was nose-diving towards a depression by focusing on jobs, manufacturing and enforcing U.S. trade laws.

“All of his accomplishments come despite obstructionist right-wingers in Congress beholden to the one percent at the expense of everybody else.”

Beyond fulfilling his commitments to manufacturing and job creation, President Obama succeeded in regulating Wall Street and passing health care reform, Gerard pointed out, noting: “Because of the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies no longer can deny care to those with pre-existing conditions, no longer can drop people when they get sick, and no longer can place lifet…

Q&A on Health Care Reform

Q My out-of-pocket costs are expensive enough as it is. Why should I support cutting Medicare as a part of health care reform?
A Despite the rumors you may have heard, health care reform does not cut Medicare’s traditional, guaranteed benefits. Quite the opposite: the new law explicitly prohibits such benefit cuts. There are significant Medicare savings in the bill, but the money does not go to pay for covering the uninsured — it just looks that way because of our government’s budget and accounting rules.
In fact, the Medicare savings stay in the Medicare program — which is why the Part A Trust Fund will stay solvent at least seven years beyond what we expected before health care reform, and premiums and other out-of-pocket costs will grow more slowly in the future. Most of the savings were voluntarily agreed to by hospitals and other affected provider groups because they believe the additional insured patients and efficiencies included in the law will save them money. They contributed…

Closing the Donut Hole

The health care overhaul has added important improvements to Medicare prescription drug coverage for seniors. In 2010, the new health care reform law helped cover expenses for seniors falling into the donut hole coverage gap, and the hole in coverage is eliminated altogether by 2020. The law also provides for additional assistance for low-income beneficiaries.

The Donut Hole: Immediate relief for seniors now, completely gone by 2020

Currently, the standard Part D drug benefit contains a donut hole, a gap in coverage where beneficiaries must cover the cost of their medications even while they continue to pay premiums. Before health care reform was implemented, using 2010 as an example, this occurred when the total costs of a beneficiary’s prescription drugs reached $2,830 — requiring the beneficiary to cover the next $3,610 in drug costs.

The new law provides assistance to help seniors bridge this donut hole until it is closed entirely in 2020.

2010 $250 rebate to every senior who fell …

Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert March 2, 2012 edition

Citing Polarization, Sen. Olympia Snowe Announces Her Retirement

Senator Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) announced on Tuesday that she will not seek re-election and will instead retire after over 30 years in Congress. The announcement came as a surprise to many, especially since she was heavily favored to win re-election. She cited unproductivity and polarization in Washington as the main reasons for her sudden retirement. In a poll released last week by the National Journal, she and her Maine colleague, Sen. Susan Collins, were considered the two most liberal Republicans in the Senate, voting with the Democrats more often than other GOP senators. Snowe’s retirement opens the door for a Democrat to pick up a seat in an expected hotly-contested fall contest. “The retirement of Senator Snowe is yet another reminder of the extreme direction in which the Republican Party is heading,” said Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance. “Senator Snowe has been an increasingly rare voice of mo…

Retirees Lament Departure of Senator Snowe

815 16th Street, NW, 4th Floor ¨ Washington, D.C. 20006 ¨ (202) 637-5399 ¨

 For Immediate Release                                                                                                                         Contact: David Blank (202) 637-5275 or
February 29, 2012

“An increasingly rare voice of moderation”

The following statement was issued today by Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans.

“The retirement of Senator Snowe is yet another reminder of the extreme direction in which the Republican Party is heading.  Senator Snowe has been an increasingly rare voice of moderation and openness.

“While retirees and workers did not agree with Senator Snowe on every issue, her door was always open to listen and engage in meaningful discussion.  She regularly met with Alliance members when they visited Washington and spoke at our Maine Alliance meetings.

“Perhaps Se…