Friday, August 31, 2012

Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert 8-31-12

Republican Platform Calls for Sweeping Changes to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid
Delegates to this week’s Republican National Convention approved a party platform calling for sweeping changes to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.  Pledging to “save Medicare by modernizing it,” the platform supports vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan’s plan to push seniors toward vouchers to buy health coverage from private insurance companies.  The platform would also raise the Medicare eligibility age to 67.  Medicaid, which is the only way that 70 percent of seniors can afford long-term and nursing home care, would be cut under the GOP plan, with much of the program turned over to individual states.

Social Security, the platform contends, “is long overdue for major change… to restore trust in the system.” While the actual platform language on Social Security is vague, both Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have long supported lowering benefits, raising the retirement age, and moving toward a privatized system tied to the stock market.  Also this week, television commentator Pat Robertson said in an interview that the retirement age should be raised to 72, saying that such an idea “would not hurt anybody because people really like to work.”  To see a video of this interview: “This platform is a raw deal for current and future retirees.  Seniors would take all the risks, while Wall Street and health insurers would get all the rewards,” said Alliance President Barbara J. Easterling.  The Alliance’s web site,, has a number of fact sheets current on the debates over the future of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

Romney-Ryan Medicare Proposal Would Shift Costs to Patients
Mitt Romney’s promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act - removing over $700 billion in Medicare savings - would hasten Medicare’s insolvency by eight years and immediately add hundreds of dollars of out-of-pocket expenses to current enrollees, The New York Times recently reported (  The newspaper reported that repeal would raise out-of-pocket costs for seniors by an average of $342 per year.

Mr. Romney’s plan would eliminate several new, popular Medicare services, including free preventive screenings and expanded prescription drug coverage.  While Romney claims that he wants to restore funds to Medicare, his proposals do not increase coverage or care, but instead increase costs through higher payments to hospitals and big insurance companies.  In accepting his party’s vice presidential nomination this week, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) said, “the greatest threat to Medicare is Obamacare, and we’re going to stop it.”  For a detailed fact-check of Mr. Ryan’s speech, visit

“The Romney-Ryan plan would result in higher payments for less care, while shortening Medicare’s projected lifespan,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance.  “President Obama’s Affordable Care Act lowers costs, increases access to care for Medicare beneficiaries and extends Medicare’s solvency by eight years.  It is good for seniors.”

Obama Touts Success of Health Reform for Seniors
In his weekly radio address, President Obama announced on August 25 that, because of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, nearly 5.4 million seniors with Medicare have saved over $4.1 billion on prescription drugs, an average of more than $700 per person.  In 2012, Mr. Obama said, 18 million seniors with Medicare have received free preventive care benefits such as mammograms and colonoscopies.  Medicare, the President said, is “a promise this country made to our seniors that says if you put in a lifetime of hard work, you shouldn’t lose your home or your life savings just because you get sick.”

Alliance Mourns Loss of Stu Leibowitz

The Alliance is mourning the recent death of Stu Leibowitz, an AFSCME retiree leader who was President of the Alliance’s New York City chapter.  Leibowitz was a tireless defender of the retiree benefits that public sector workers fought for and earned.  “Stu was a cornerstone of the Alliance’s national and regional conferences, frequently speaking up to educate and inspire his fellow retirees.  He will be sorely missed,” said Edward F. Coyle, the Alliance’s Executive Director.

Commentary: On Labor Day, Educate Younger People About Unions 
As we near Labor Day, I want to encourage you to help younger generations better understand why labor unions are so important.  Too many people either know very little about unions, or only know what politicians and Fox News tell them.

I joined a union on my very first day on the job as a telephone operator in Akron, Ohio.  It was one of the best decisions I ever made.  Our generation – and those who came before us – used our rights at work and in the community to create good jobs and good wages.  We helped build strong neighborhoods where you could raise a family. In my experience, a union is the only way workers can earn good pay and be treated with respect and fairness on the job.  It’s just too tough any other way.  When you look at the powerful interests that workers are up against – whether it is right-wing politicians or cold-hearted corporations – you see how badly the deck is stacked against you if you don’t have a union.

As union retiree, you can speak firsthand how collective bargaining helps earn the wages and benefits that support families and build strong, stable communities.  Collective bargaining directly affects retirement – the better you work, the better you retire.  I worry that decades of low wages, little or no health insurance, and inadequate savings are sowing the seeds for a serious retirement security crisis that will affect everyone in our country.

While some politicians mock unions as a cheap way to score political points, we all know the truth – collective bargaining is a backbone of the American middle class.   We have a lot to be proud of – so let’s get out there and spread the word!  -Barbara J. Easterling

Please share this Labor Day column with others in your community by visiting

For a printable version of this document, go to

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Retiree Leader Critical of GOP Platform

Wall Street, Insurance Companies Would Profit at Expense of Seniors

The following statement was issued today by Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, in response to the 2012 Republican Party Platform.

“In a platform badly out of touch with the needs of workers and retirees, the Republican Party is seeking to enrich Wall Street and the big health insurance companies at the expense of retirees who are trying to pay their bills and stay healthy.  The platform is a perfect fit for the most anti-senior ticket ever to be nominated by a major political party.

“The platform would reverse nearly 50 years of Medicare success by cutting benefits, delaying retirees’ eligibility, and pushing seniors toward expensive, inadequate coverage from private health insurance companies.  According to a recent analysis by the New York Times, the Romney-Ryan plan would raise out-of-pocket costs for seniors by an average of $342 per year, drain eight years’ of solvency from the Medicare Trust Fund, and take away popular new wellness and preventive benefits from seniors.

“The Republican Party is once again perpetuating the false and corrosive myth that Social Security fuels our national debt and is on the brink of bankruptcy.  Its call to raise the retirement age would be devastating for workers in blue collar and service sector jobs.  It is unconscionable for the Republican Party to try to both cut Social Security benefits for retirees and add even more tax break for millionaires and big corporations.

“At a time when middle class families everywhere worry about the cost of long-term and nursing home care, the platform would cut Medicaid and turn the program over to cash-strapped states.  This would badly jeopardize the only way over 70 percent of families can afford this type of medical care for their loved ones.

“The Alliance for Retired Americans, a four-million member grassroots advocacy organization, will be educating and mobilizing seniors across the country about how this cold, irresponsible platform threatens the well-being of current and future retirees.”

Mr. Coyle is available for media interviews by calling 202/637-5190.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

It's Time to Wake Up

We are constantly being bombarded with the rhetoric that Americans are fed up with big government. It sounds great, but when you dig deeper and ask folks for specifics, it is obvious that this view is more theoretical than reality. 
A poll recently released from Hofstra University, which surveyed suburban voters unveiled that the majority of Americans are adamantly opposed to cutting benefits or regulations when the talk turns to specifics.
* More than seven in ten suburban residents say that they favor cutting federal spending in general. But when you get specific, 87 percent oppose cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits. And 65 percent support increasing government spending on infrastructure and public works projects.
* A majority, 51 percent, says government regulation of business usually “does more harm than good.” But when you get specific, nearly two thirds of them say the environment should be protected by doing-- “whatever it takes.” Even when you add into the equation that regulation might cost jobs, a bare majority still say strict environmental laws and regulations are worth the cost. 
I say enough is enough! It’s time to wake up and realize that the grandiose “campaign speak” that we have been listening to is meant to divide and conquer. It sounds good that big government is bad and spending must be reeled in. But in reality, what has been painted as bad and out of control are programs and services that we all need and depend on.
It is time for all of us to take a good hard look at what the candidates are saying and make an informed decision on who we elect. This election is too important to get caught up in party loyalty. It is about maintaining our quality of life! 
Jim Centner, SOAR Director

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Are You Listening?

I know we all have been inundated with television and radio commercials from both parties in an effort to persuade us to vote one way or the other this November.

But, have you been listening to the debate? I have, and the message seems pretty clear. One party believes in going back to the trickle down policies of the past, that favors enriching the few at the expense of the majority and the other wants to build an economy that works for all.

We have tried the old trickle down economic plan before. The idea is to have less governmental controls over business and the wealthy to allow them to make more money. In return, those who have will turn around and share their wealth with those less fortunate.

In a benevolent society that may work. But history has taught us that in the dog-eat-dog world that exists in business and politics today, those less fortunate will be left behind while those who have prospered continue to live a life that you and I can only dream of.

Sisters and Brothers, the path we choose in November will determine the fate of the working middle class.  We can decide to move forward together and build a better America or we can retreat to the failed policies of the past, to a world of have and have nots.

This fall we can make a difference. Use your vote wisely.  Let’s continue down the path of recovery and not go back to the failed policies of the extreme right!

Connie Entrekin, SOAR President

Friday, August 24, 2012

Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert 8-24-12

Alliance Responds to Argument That Obama Raided $716 Billion from Medicare
A new ad, paid for by the Mitt Romney campaign, has a narrator saying, “Some think Obamacare is the same as free health care. But nothing is free. Obama is raiding $716 billion from Medicare, changing the program forever. Taxing wheelchairs and pacemakers! Raising taxes on families making less than $120,000! Free health care comes at a very high price. The Romney-Ryan plan will restore Medicare funding and protect and strengthen the program for the next generation.”

Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance, responded, “The $716 billion savings in Medicare under the Affordable Care Act do not affect benefits for seniors and beneficiaries. They do reduce overpayments and provider reimbursements - excluding doctors - and they curb waste, fraud and abuse. When Romney says he will reverse the changes to Medicare under health reform, he means he will reinstitute overpayments to insurance companies and protect pharmaceutical and medical device companies. This would weaken Medicare, making it insolvent earlier – in 2016.”

Singer Pat Boone Hits a Sour Note with “60 Plus” Ads
The 60 Plus Association, a conservative seniors group, has been using singer Pat Boone again in an ad that targets the Affordable Care Act.

Historically, many critics have referred to “60 Plus” as a front group for the pharmaceutical industry. In the current ad, Mr. Boone warns seniors of potential dangers in the bill and urges them to call Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio. Similar versions of the ad, aired in other states, target four other Democratic senators, including Bill Nelson of Florida.

PolitiFact, a project of the Tampa Bay Times to help find the truth in Washington and the Obama presidency, ran several of Boone’s claims in the ad through the “Truth-O-Meter,” and the results are not favorable for 60 Plus. A statement that an Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) created by the health care act “can ration care and deny certain Medicare treatments” was rated “Pants on Fire,” as was the claim that the IPAB is “like a Medicare IRS with the power to cut Medicare in order to pay for new government programs.” And the statement that the health care law “will cut $500 billion from Medicare” was rated “Mostly False.”

“Pat Boone is hitting a sour note in his new TV ads that try to mislead and scare Ohio seniors about Senator Sherrod Brown’s support for the 2010 Affordable Care Act,” said Dave Friesner, President of the Ohio Alliance, in response to the ads.

Added Florida Alliance President Tony Fransetta, “The ad fails to mention how the new health reform law improves Medicare for millions of seniors, helping them better afford to see a doctor and fill a prescription.  For example, the new law has helped over 238,000 Florida seniors on Medicare save a total of $142 million on their drug costs, an average of $596 person.”

Results of Swing State Polls, Taken After Ryan Was Chosen as VP Nominee, Are In
The Medicare debate was thrust to the forefront of the presidential campaign this month when Mr. Romney announced that his running mate would be Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. New polls have now found that more likely voters in Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin trust President Obama the most to handle Medicare. And on Thursday, The New York Times reported that the Romney-Ryan plan for the program, described as “a proposal to reshape Medicare by giving future beneficiaries fixed amounts of money to buy health coverage,” is “deeply unpopular” in those three states.

After more than a week of “frenzied” campaigning on the issue, Medicare ranks as the third-most crucial issue to likely voters in Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin — behind the economy and health care, according to new Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS News polls of the three swing states. Moreover, the Republican proposal to retool the program is widely disliked. Roughly 6 in 10 likely voters in each state want Medicare to continue providing health insurance to older Americans the way it does today; fewer than a third of those polled said Medicare should be changed in the future to a system in which the government gives the elderly fixed amounts of money to buy health insurance or Medicare insurance, as Mr. Romney has proposed. And Medicare is widely seen as a good value: about three-quarters of the likely voters in each state said the benefits of Medicare are worth the cost to taxpayers.

“Paul Ryan is known for proposing the budget plan, supported by Mr. Romney, to end Medicare as we know it by using vouchers to shift thousands of dollars in health care costs to seniors,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. “That doesn’t poll well, and it shouldn’t.”

Mr. Obama is ahead in Florida by 49 percent to 46 percent and in Wisconsin by 49 percent to 47 percent — differences within the polls’ margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points. Mr. Obama retains a six-point advantage in Ohio, where he leads Mr. Romney 50 percent to 44 percent, unchanged from last month’s survey. The polls were conducted by telephone (landline and cellphones) from August 15 through Tuesday among 1,241 likely voters in Florida, 1,253 likely voters in Ohio and 1,190 likely voters in Wisconsin. To see the whole article, go to

Report from the West: Alliance Activity in Washington, Montana, Oregon
Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance spoke at the Washington State Alliance Convention in Tukwila on Wednesday. “I am particularly impressed with the Washington Alliance’s partnerships with college students,” Ms. Easterling told the crowd.

The new Montana Alliance elected John Forkan as their President last week in Helena. Also, Scott Blau has been elected as the Oregon Alliance President and is no longer “Acting President.”

Alliance Organizer Bentley Davis Speaks Alongside Nancy Pelosi in Ohio
Bentley Davis, State Director and Field Organizer for the Ohio Alliance, joined House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi as part of a panel on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) last Thursday in Columbus. Ms. Davis highlighted the benefits of the ACA toward retirees and Medicare beneficiaries. The two were joined by Almeta Cooper of the Ohio State University Medical Center and Dr. Theresa Long, head of the Columbus Department of Public Health.

For a printable version of this document, go to

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Retirees Have Reason To Be Worried

By Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance for Retired Americans

I recently read an article profiling Mitt Romney’s top economic advisers.  One thing they all have in common is they all support privatizing Social Security. With Mitt Romney having friends like these, workers and retirees have every reason to be worried.

Social Security – which turned 77 this summer – would, under their plan, become a collection of private accounts tied to the roulette wheel of the stock market. With all the chaos and scandal on Wall Street, this would be a terrible gamble for workers and retirees – many of whom have already lost much of their savings and seen their home values drop because of unchecked greed and speculation in the financial industry.

Privatizing Social Security is like the house guest that just won’t leave. President George W. Bush tried but was stopped in 2005. Even in the face of wild gyrations on Wall Street and scandals such as Bernie Madoff, AIG, and Lehman Brothers, right-wing think tanks continue to keep the flame alive.

Social Security should not be one more pension fund for the Bain Capitals of the world to raid, nor should it be yet another hand-out to Wall Street gamblers. Instead, Social Security should remain what it has been for 77 years, a solid, reliable way that generations of workers have been able to retire with dignity, economic security, and peace of mind.

You can tell a lot about someone by the company they keep. When I see who Mitt Romney listens to on Social Security, as well as his plans to cut benefits, raise the retirement age, and turn much of it over to Wall Street, I am very troubled.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

"One Term More"

Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert 8-17-12

Mitt Romney Chooses Paul Ryan as His Running Mate
On Saturday morning, Mitt Romney unveiled U.S. Representative and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) as his choice for running mate in his quest to become U.S. President. Alliance Executive Director Edward F. Coyle was quick to react to the choice of Ryan, who has made clear his plan to end Medicare as we know it by turning it into a voucher system - shifting thousands of dollars in health care costs to seniors. Ryan also seeks to raise the retirement age, privatize Social Security and cut benefits under that program.

“Paul Ryan would make older workers, who have trouble finding health insurance in the private marketplace, wait until they reach age 67 to qualify for Medicare benefits,” Mr. Coyle said. “Imagine combining this with Mitt Romney’s plan to require Americans in all sectors, including physically demanding jobs, to work until age 70 before they can be eligible for the Social Security benefits they have earned. The Romney-Ryan team would end guaranteed benefits on both Social Security and Medicare.” To read Mr. Coyle’s full statement, go to  

The Congressional Budget Office projects that under the Ryan budget, federal Medicare expenditures on behalf of an average new beneficiary would be $400 to $700 (6 to 11 percent) less in 2023, and $5,900 to $8,000 (35 to 42 percent) less in 2050 than under current law. On Wednesday in Green Bay, Wisconsin, Romney said, “Paul Ryan and my plan for Medicare I think is the same, if not identical.” (

According to Bloomberg News (, Ryan’s plan to overhaul Medicaid, the health care program for the poor that funds nursing-home care and other benefits for 6 million U.S. seniors, would dramatically affect today’s seniors. Ryan calls for $800 billion in cuts to that program over the next decade, leaving it up to the states that administer Medicaid to decide how to allocate the program’s spending among seniors, poor children and the other beneficiaries. Ryan’s Medicaid plan would even eliminate the ban on spousal impoverishment - legislation from 1988 that forced states to grant Medicaid coverage based on the financial condition of the patient and allowed the spouses of patients to protect enough assets and income to live with some degree of comfort and dignity. To see the Alliance’s new Paul Ryan web page, go to

Biden Guarantees There will be No Changes to Social Security!
Showing a contrast to the Romney-Ryan plan, Vice President Joe Biden spoke for the Obama Administration on Tuesday, telling cafe patrons in Virginia that he could “guarantee” that he and President Obama would allow no changes to Social Security (

Social Security celebrated its 77th birthday on Tuesday. To commemorate the occasion, Alliance activists across the country held birthday celebrations in local communities, educational briefings at senior centers, and protests outside offices of lawmakers who have voted against the needs of local retirees. Seniors celebrated the program they rely on for modest benefits when they need them most. “How ironic that just as seniors celebrate Social Security’s birthday, Mitt Romney has named in Paul Ryan a running mate who wants to decimate the program,” noted Mr. Coyle. To read Mr. Coyle’s full statement from Tuesday, go to

“Social Security is a family protection program -- protecting retired workers, disabled workers and their surviving family members,” added Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. Alliance chapters in 24 states held an anniversary event. For pictures from the Social Security celebrations, go to (or view slideshow at For pictures of all the summer actions from the “Let’s Not Be the Last Generation to Retire” campaign, go to, or see the slideshow at

Easterling Weighs in on Democratic Party’s Platform on Social Security, Medicare
Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance, was in Detroit this past weekend in her role as a member of the Democratic National Committee’s platform committee. The platform committee approved language on Social Security and Medicare to read, “We believe every American deserves a secure, healthy and dignified retirement. America’s seniors have earned their Medicare and Social Security through a lifetime of hard work and personal responsibility.  President Obama is committed to preserving that promise for this and future generations.” The next step in the process is a vote on the platform at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC the week of Sept. 3.

Welcome, Montana…
Ms. Easterling traveled to Helena, Montana and addressed the founding convention of the Montana Alliance on Thursday. “You are our 33rd state chapter,” Ms. Easterling told the attendees. “When we stand up for seniors in Montana and around the country, we are part of the larger fight for social and economic justice.” Visit the Montana Alliance's new Facebook page at:

Judge Refuses to stop Pennsylvania Voter ID Law; Part of Florida Law Rejected
Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson has declined to issue an injunction to stop the state’s tough new voter ID law. The law, which has now been cleared to take effect before the November election, has been criticized for its disproportional impact on seniors and minority voters, many of whom do not have access to the transportation or the funds required to obtain the required identification.  The American Civil Liberties Union, which represented the plaintiffs in the case, including the Alliance, has vowed to appeal the decision to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.  In June, Pennsylvania state House Republican leader Mike Turzai celebrated the law because it would, “allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.”

On Thursday, a federal court rejected part of Florida's new election law that would have restricted the number of early voting days across the state. The court said the new law cannot take effect in five counties where the African-American vote could be key in November. Monroe, Collier, Hendry, Hardee and Hillsborough Counties can now continue to vote early for twelve days, rather than having the number of days cut back to eight, as will occur in all other Florida counties. Florida Public Radio reported that the ruling affects only the five counties that are covered by the federal Voting Rights Act. Because of a history of discrimination in those areas of the state, Florida must receive Justice Department or federal court approval to change voting laws there.

For a printable version of this document, go to

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Romney/Ryan Budget Threatens Vitality of Medicare

Medicare works for many reasons, one of them being that its volume of beneficiaries gives it better bargaining power when negotiating rates with providers. This feature keeps costs down for both the government and the beneficiary. Under the Ryan 2013 plan, private insurers would cherry pick the younger, healthier and less expensive beneficiaries. Leaving Medicare with a disproportianate share of the oldest, sickest and costliest beneficiaries would drive up costs for the program and set it on an unsustainable path.

Source: Alliance for Retired Americans

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Romney Wants to Voucherize Medicare

Paul Ryan's 2013 budget replaces Medicare's guaranteed benefits with a "premium support" payment that beneficiaries would use towards the cost of private insurance or traditional Medicare starting in 2023. The amount of this voucher would be based on the second cheapest available plan in the area. There is no guarantee that this payment would actually cover enough of a premium's cost to actually make health care affordable. In fact, it is more than likely that beneficiaries would be left with increased out of pocket costs, because Ryan's plan caps the amount of the voucher at GDP + 0.5 percent, far below the growth in health insurance costs in recent years. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that new beneficiaries could pay more than $1,200 more by 2030 and more than $5,900 more by 2050 under this scenario.

Source: Alliance for Retired Americans

Monday, August 13, 2012

Ryan Republican Budget, FY 2013

On March 20, 2012, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (Republican Wisconsin) released the GOP budget proposal for 2013. As feared, it is the plan that would harm the middle class while providing a windfall for millionaires. Ryan's budget makes deep, lasting cuts to many domestic programs, including Medicare, Medicaid, nutrition and housing programs. Meanwhile, it increases defense spending by $228 billion through 2022. The Ryan budget would also repeal the affordable care act (ACA), leaving 34 million people without health insurance coverage.

While the budget gives the appearance of eliminating certain tax breaks for the wealthy, it then uses those very savings to fund other tax cuts.

Most alarming perhaps are its proposals to end Medicare as we know it. And while his plans for Social Security are not as direct, don't be fooled: Ryan is still on a mission to privatize Social Security in ways that would leave the program and its critical Trust Fund on life support. These proposals spell danger for the millions who rely on them and for the millions who are counting on them to be there in the future.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert 8-10-12

Coyle Slams "Morning Joe" for Social Security Falsehoods
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

“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 ( - 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

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

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

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Medicare is not free

I don't visit many other blogs but one of my favorites is Masson's Blog which you'll see in my Blog List over on the right hand side of this page.

In response to his latest posted blog, one comment from a reader really made me chuckle. He stated, "Medicare is for the aged. It is basically free health insurance, (with deductibles)."

Retirees on Medicare will certainly get a chuckle out of that nonsense.

Medicare Part A is hospital insurance and is paid with his payroll taxes and collected by Social Security.

Medicare Part B is for medical insurance and is paid to the government at a cost of about $100 per month or so and it pays 80% of the covered expenses.

Medicare Supplement is purchased by the retiree at various premium prices and covers the 20% of covered expenses that Medicare doesn't pay.

Medicare Part D is for prescription drug costs and also have various prices for coverage through about 50 or so companies in Indiana.

There is a nasty deal called Medicare Advantage which claims to provide coverage at no premium cost but they really get you through high deductibles and they really sock it to you when you see the medical bills.

Original Medicare is great and everyone should be on it.

Monday, August 06, 2012


GOP: Lack of Insurance Revokes Sanctity of Life
Posted: 08/06/2012 8:40 am

In the case of fetuses and rich people, Republicans insist on the sanctity of life. But in the case of destitute people, infants who imprudently choose working-poor parents and struggling young adults -- basically all riffraff unable to afford health insurance -- the GOP says there's nothing sacred about their stinking lives.

Let 'em die. The uninsured should be left to rot. To the GOP, lack of insurance revokes sanctity of life. A GOP audience at a Republican presidential candidate debate clapped and cheered that morality. More recently, GOP leaders said insuring all Americansshould not be the nation's objective.
Instead, the Republican goal is guaranteeing Americans retain the freedom to forgo health insurance.

To the GOP, "freedom" to be uninsured is more important than public health, which could be endangered by an untreated, uninsured, modern-day Typhoid Mary. To Republicans, the "freedom" to be uninsured is more important than the horror of family members watching helplessly as a loved one who foolishly failed to get insurance slowly dies in agony from untreated bone cancer.

One percenters who are members of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's elite club of quarter billionaires can afford the risk of being uninsured. If they fall off a dancing horse, they can pay the medical bills out of pocket. But the non-rich can't afford a trip to the emergency room. For them, being uninsured isn't a freedom. It's bankruptcy. It's death.

No sane non-rich American wants the liberty to be uninsured.

Despite that, the GOP has repeatedly declared its intention to force the freedom to be uninsured down the throats of unwilling non-rich Americans. Last month, the Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives voted for the 33rd time to repeal or defund ObamaCare. Republicans have tried incessantly in the past two years to kill the law that will soon increase the percentage of Americans covered by health insurance from 84 to93. If the Republicans could just get Democrats in the Senate to approve that repeal -- and President Obama to sign it -- 30 million Americans would continue to be "free" to choose being uninsured.
The GOP may get that opportunity early next year. Their presidential nominee Mitt Romney has vowed that his top priority "day one, job one" in the White House will be repealing ObamaCare. No matter that it's based on RomneyCare, which Romney signed while governor of Massachusetts; no matter that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of ObamaCare; no matter that Republicans have no plan to cover the 30 million Americans who would lose the opportunity to be insured; no matter how many uninsured people would die as a result, repeal is Romney's top national priority.
Let 'em die, Romney says. Sanctity-Schmanctity.

Similarly, six Republican governors -- Rick Scott (Fla.); Rick Perry (Texas); Phil Bryant (Miss.); Nikki Haley (S.C.); Bobby Jindal (La.); and Terry Branstad (Iowa) -- have announced they will refuse the ObamaCare Medicaid money that's intended to extend insurance to the working poor -- those who earn slightly too much to be covered by Medicaid now. The governors' rejection of Medicaid expansion is expected to give at least 3 million Americans the "freedom" to continue being uninsured.
The governors said they would rebuff the money even though for the first three years, states don't have to contribute a cent to the program. They'll snub the money even though studies have shown expansion of Medicaid improves health and significantly reduces death.
Let 'em die, the GOP governors say. Sanctity-Schmanctity.

Last week, insurance companies that overcharged under the terms of ObamaCarereturned $1.1 billion to policy holders and employers who buy coverage. ObamaCare, formally known as the Affordable Care Act, requires insurers, depending on their size, to spend between 80 and 85 percent of premium dollars on actual medical care. Insurers that pay too much for fancy penthouse offices and CEO perks must rebate policyholders. This is what Republicans want to deny Americans in exchange for the "freedom" to be uninsured.
The rebate checks went into the mail just one week after the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reported -- again -- that ObamaCare will lower the nation's budget deficit. That's lower, as in reduce, diminish, decrease the deficit. In fact, the CBO reported that if Republicans had succeeded in getting the law repealed, that would haveincreased the deficit by $109 billion over nine years. Republicans want to give Americans higher deficits in exchange for the "freedom" to be uninsured.
That's right. Republicans have voted 33 times to enlarge the deficit and take from Americans ObamaCare benefits they love -- like coverage for young adults under their parents' plans until age 26; payments to senior citizens to close the Medicare prescription donut hole; and prohibitions against insurers denying coverage to children with pre-existing conditions and against dropping policyholders when they get sick.

As Americans realize benefits from ObamaCare, the law increases in popularity. Despite the GOP's massive two-year campaign to kill it, support for ObamaCare has grown steadily, so that now, nearly half the nation backs it.
Still, Americans don't yet love ObamaCare the way citizens of Great Britain adore their National Health Service (NHS). In Great Britain, the half-century-old NHS is so treasured that it received a tribute in the opening ceremony to the Olympics in London. The NHS, like health care in other Western European countries, covers everyone.

That's exactly what Republicans don't want -- a system that insures all Americans. Republican Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, put it this waywhen asked how to extend coverage to the nation's uninsured:
"Let me tell you what we're not going to do. We're not going to turn the American health care system into a Western European system."

Nope. He'd rather let Americans die. Sanctity-Schmanctity.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert 8-3-12

Medicare and Medicaid Birthday Events Cover 23 States!
The Alliance celebrated the 47th Birthday of Medicare and Medicaid on July 30, and 50 “Let’s Not Be the Last Generation to Retire” summer campaign events have now taken place since July 22. Alliance chapters in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland/DC, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin have held Medicare and Medicaid birthday events recently.

Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance, celebrated Medicare and Medicaid’s Anniversary with a column in Huffington Post, calling attention to Republican threats to the programs’ continued success. “Medicare – along with Medicaid and Social Security -- has made life better for generations of retirees, but if the wrong candidates win this November, this could all become a thing of the past,” cautioned Ms. Easterling. “Before Medicare, many older Americans had to live in terrible health because they were unable to afford the care they need,” she wrote. Read the entire column at

Some highlights from the state events: Pictures from the Colorado Alliance’s “Keep Your Mitt(s) off My Medicare” Romney protest at; parades in downtown Seattle and Barre, Vermont; and events with Reps. Shelley Berkley in Nevada and Mike Doyle in Pittsburgh. In Illinois, activists held a press conference outside the Moline office of Rep. Bobby Schilling.

Alliance activists have held events at Senior Centers and nursing homes in cities including Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona; Albuquerque; Cedar Rapids; Las Vegas; Goshen, New York; Columbus, Toledo, and Dayton, Ohio; and Madison, Green Bay and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Cupcakes were delivered to the Los Angeles office of Rep. Xavier Becerra on Sunset Boulevard. In Dover, New Hampshire, former Rep. Carol Shea-Porter attended an Alliance event, but Rep. Frank Guinta declined. Events at labor headquarters buildings were held in Denver; Raleigh; Indianapolis; and Austin and Houston, Texas. In addition, three events were held across Florida; Missouri held a celebration at the Ethical Society of St. Louis; and Maine hosted one at the Federal Building in Lewiston. Some states also held additional events. For a summary of the activities, a complete list of events that have taken place this summer, and future events, go to

New Reports: Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security Work for All 50 States!
Several Alliance State Presidents made tele-conference calls this week with reporters, elected officials, and policy experts, together with allies telling personal stories, to announce the release of a set of reports from the group Social Security Works. The reports specifically highlight the impact of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security on a given state’s residents, economy, Congressional Districts, counties, seniors, women, children, Latinos, working families and more. Those reports can be viewed by state here: Social Security Works is a coalition united around the proposition, “Strengthen Social Security... Don't Cut It.” The coalition is made up of over 300 national and state organizations, including the Alliance, and represents over 50 million Americans.

Speaking on various calls Monday for the states of Maryland, Michigan, Washington, California and Illinois were U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (MD); Reps. John Conyers (MI), Jan Schakowsky (IL), and Doris Matsui (CA); Maryland/DC Alliance President Frank Stella and Michigan Alliance President Dick Long; Social Security Works Co-Director Nancy Altman; activists David Waugh and Steve Kofahl; and Washington Alliance Organizer Jo Jacobson. “Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are inter-generational treasures,” said Rep. Schakowsky on her call.

On Tuesday, Social Security Works Co-Director Eric Kingson joined Rhode Island Alliance President John Pernorio and New England Alliance Organizer Terry Lochhead on a similar call for Rhode Island.

Romney’s Advisors: Olympic-Caliber Social Security Privatizers
Mitt Romney’s economic policy team is filled with former George W. Bush administration officials, many of whom still actively work towards the privatization of our Social Security system, according to the blog (  Glen Hubbard, one of the major designers of Romney’s tax plan, argues in favor of the private account retirement system that would have bankrupted millions in the recent financial crisis.  Gregory Mankiw believes that poor people simply do not want to make money, and that requiring the wealthiest to pay their fair share will make people work less.  Other advisors have co-sponsored legislation to privatize Social Security and have argued that the big banks had nothing to do with the financial crisis.

“Mitt Romney’s economic team is rife with the people who got us into this economic mess,” said Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance.  “We cannot allow them to re-gain control of the White House. They have pledged to roll back the clock on everything from 77 years of a social safety net to recent financial reforms that can help to prevent another economic collapse.”

Congressional Budget Office Finds Affordable Care Act Reduces Deficit
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has found that Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would actually increase the deficit by over $100 billion over the next decade.  Repealing the reform would also leave 30 million Americans uninsured and decrease revenues by $111 billion.  In the wake of the recent Supreme Court health care ruling, the CBO updated its estimates to reflect the optional Medicaid expansion, and found that the ACA will save an additional $84 billion.

“Standing with big insurance companies to increase the deficit at the expense of working families is not wise or fair,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. “The Affordable Care Act expands coverage and decreases costs, and it’s time for health reform opponents to accept that.” 

For a printable version of this document, go to

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Hoosier Seniors Get Preventive Services

Covering preventive services with no deductible or co-pay
In 2011, 736,054 people with Medicare in Indiana received free preventive services – such as mammograms and colonoscopies – or a free annual wellness visit with their doctor. And in the first five months of 2012, 321,140 people with Medicare received free preventive services. Because of the new Affordable Care law, 54 million Americans with private health insurance gained preventive service coverage with no cost-sharing, including 1,160,000 in Indiana.

And Republicans want to repeal it? Why?