Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance, issued a response this week to a Monday segment on MSNBC’s Morning Joe filled with half-truths and outright lies about Social Security’s future. In the segment, host Joe Scarborough perpetuated the myth that Social Security adds to the deficit, when in reality the Social Security Trust Fund has a $2.7 trillion surplus. Mr. Coyle pointed out that Mr. Scarborough had failed to acknowledge what life was like without Social Security: that the senior poverty rate is half what it used to be, or that before Social Security we were a nation where people worked until the day they died.
The letter also referred to a misleading discussion of the worker-retiree ratio, which has remained the same (3:1) for over 30 years. In his letter, Mr. Coyle urged MSNBC to seek more balanced coverage of Social Security, one of America’s greatest success stories. To read the full letter, go to http://bit.ly/P371uT.
“The political-media myths perpetuated by Mr. Scarborough’s distorted presentation of this issue scare both workers and retirees,” wrote Coyle. “When these issues are discussed on national TV in such a misleading manner, it only exacerbates the cynicism people have about both government and the media.”
Social Security Birthday Events Are Just Around the Corner
The Alliance held over 60 events in July to celebrate and organize around Medicare and Medicaid’s 47th birthday, and will hold 50 more in August with the upcoming 77th Anniversary of Social Security. The summer campaign, themed “Let’s Not Be the Last Generation to Retire,” illustrates that seniors worry about these programs not being there for their children and grandchildren. To celebrate the anniversary, the Alliance will be hosting parties with cakes and delivering the cakes to elected officials; sponsoring educational briefings at senior centers; and organizing protests outside offices of lawmakers who have voted against the needs of local retirees. The overarching goal is to educate seniors on both the issues and on where elected officials and candidates stand, clearing up all the misinformation that is being spread.
“Social Security gives middle class workers hope and faith that someday, when their working days are over, they will be able to relax and enjoy a break after decades of hard work,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance.
“Premium Support Plans” Bring Greater Medicare Costs for Retirees
So-called “premium support plans,” the vouchers supported under House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) Republican budget proposal and backed by Mitt Romney, would bring greater out-of-pocket costs to retirees, according to a new study by the Journal of the American Medical Association. According to the study - cited by the blog thinkprogress.org (http://bit.ly/OU5NCw) - under the Republican proposal, private insurance companies would make offers on insurance, and the voucher would be tied to the premium of the private plan with the second-lowest cost, or the premium for traditional Medicare - whichever is lower. This would end Medicare as we know it and force seniors to pay hundreds more each year to maintain the care they have today. While the GOP argues that this kind of system would increase competition and lower costs, facts show that such a policy actually shifts costs from the government and insurance companies onto the backs of retirees.
“The Romney-Ryan plan is costly for retirees, it’s costly for the middle class, and it’s just bad policy,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. “By pushing this plan, Republicans have promised to balance the budget on the backs of seniors and the middle class.”
New Side-by-Side Comparison of Romney and Obama Now Available
To see a chart comparing President Barack Obama with presumptive Republican Nominee Mitt Romney on seniors’ issues, go to http://bit.ly/QRQ5uI.
Nearly Half of Americans Die without Money, Study Finds
A recent study by MIT professors has found that nearly one in two Americans die with $10,000 or less in financial assets. According to the report, these Americans often relied almost entirely on Social Security for their retirement and did not own property. Those who died with no money were often in poor health. The report also revealed that people who died with no financial assets lived shorter lives than those who earn more, partly due to the fact that they could not afford emergency medical care. Ms. Easterling said, “This is why the Alliance is fighting to protect Social Security; we need to make sure that people who need Social Security to make ends meet will have it, and not fall victim to ill-informed and unnecessary cuts to these vital programs.” To see the Huffington Post write-up of the study, go to http://huff.to/RdXiTc.
Medicare Drug Costs Will Not Increase in 2013
Those enrolled in Medicare Part D should not see an increase in their premiums in the next year, according to officials from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). An HHS report estimates that premium costs in 2013 will average about $30 per person, similar to the costs in 2012. Officials attributed the steady drug costs to President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which aggressively combats the rising costs of prescription drugs. The law will also help by closing the Part D “doughnut hole,” or the out-of-pocket expenses that seniors must pay if their drug costs exceed a spending limit.
Mr. Coyle said, “The Affordable Care Act has stopped the rapid increase in prescription costs on retirees, and it helps keep us free of the greed of the big insurance companies.”
Barbara Easterling Goes on the Road
Ms. Easterling will be traveling to Detroit for a meeting of the Democratic Platform Committee that begins today. Following that, she will be traveling to the Montana Alliance Founding Convention in Helena on August 16, and then the Washington State Alliance Convention in Tukwila, Washington on August 22.
For a printable version of this document, go to http://bit.ly/OXv3Ib.