Saturday, June 28, 2014

Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert 6-27-14

Headlines:
Obama Picks Carolyn W. Colvin to Lead Social Security Administration
SAME Act Would Bring Equal Social Security Benefits to Same-Sex Spouses
Sign the Petition Calling for an End to the Abuse of “Observation Status”
Virginia Gov. McAuliffe Vetoes Parts of State Budget in Medicaid Expansion Fight
Maryland/DC Alliance Holds First Annual Awards Luncheon
If Social Security Disability Insurance Made a Difference in Your Life, Tell us how!
Retiree Activists Gather at Indiana Alliance Convention
Maryland/DC Alliance Member James (“Jimmy”) Allen Passes Away


Obama Picks Carolyn W. Colvin to Lead Social Security Administration
Late last week, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Carolyn W. Colvin to lead the Social Security Administration (SSA). A longtime government administrator, Ms. Colvin has been the agency’s acting commissioner since February 2013. There will be a confirmation hearing in the Senate Finance Committee and, if confirmed, she would serve a six-year term. The appointment comes at a time when the SSA faces a number of ongoing challenges. Budget cuts at the agency have recently led to field office closures, staff reductions, and service cuts. The budget stress at the agency has been coupled with increased demand for support services as more and more baby boomers hit retirement age.

This spring, Colvin was a featured speaker at the Alliance National Membership Convention in Las Vegas. “We are pleased that a permanent Social Security Commissioner has been nominated. Congress should make Acting Commissioner Colvin’s job easier by fully funding the SSA, so that field offices can remain open, and the people who have earned Social Security benefits are able to access the services they need,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance.

SAME Act Would Bring Equal Social Security Benefits to Same-Sex Spouses
On Wednesday, the Alliance called on Congress to pass the Social Security and Marriage Equality (SAME) Act of 2014, introduced by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI). The SAME act would close a current gap that denies legally married same-sex spouses access to full Social Security benefits when they reside in a state that does not recognize same-sex marriage. “After the death of a loved one, some families are currently going without survivor benefits they have earned,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance. “We are saying that discrimination is never right, and we want to be on the right side of history. Same-sex older couples deserve the same rights as other older couples.” Read the press release at http://tinyurl.com/qcdqjzx.

Sign the Petition Calling for an End to the Abuse of “Observation Status”
The Alliance has released a new online petition calling on Congress to take action to prevent seniors from being forced to bear high out of pocket health costs due to the misuse of an “observation status” designation during hospital stays. Increasingly, seniors on Medicare are spending multiple days in the hospital only to discover later on that they were never admitted as in-patients and were instead held under “observation status.” As a result, seniors are facing unexpected bills for medications and skilled nursing facility care that Medicare would typically cover for in-patients.
The petition calls on Congress to pass the Improving Access to Medicare Coverage Act (S.569, H.R. 1179), co-sponsored by Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Susan Collins (R-ME) in the Senate and by Reps. Joe Courtney (D-CT) and Tom Latham (R-IA) in the House. To sign the petition, go to http://tinyurl.com/lzx3tnk.

Virginia Gov. McAuliffe Vetoes Parts of State Budget in Medicaid Expansion Fight
The budget battle between Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) and Republicans in the state legislature over McAuliffe’s push to extend health coverage to 400,000 low income Virginians has taken another dramatic turn. After the surprise resignation of Democratic state senator Phillip Puckett threw control of the state Senate to the GOP, Republicans took advantage of their new majority by passing a two-year budget plan that excludes the state Medicaid expansion supported by McAuliffe. In response, McAuliffe has made use of the line-item veto to strike down several portions of the budget and pledged to expand Medicaid without legislative approval. The GOP then used a procedural move on Monday to kill a critical veto that McAuliffe hoped would make it easier to expand Medicaid without going through the state legislature. McAuliffe has pledged to continue his push to expand Medicaid. “We are pleased that we have a governor who has stood his ground and kept the promise he campaigned on,” said Ron Thompson, President of the Virginia Alliance.

Maryland/DC Alliance Holds First Annual Awards Luncheon
On Saturday, Ms. Easterling attended the MD/DC Alliance’s first annual awards luncheon in Lanham, Maryland. The luncheon honored former MD/DC Alliance President Frank Stella with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his years of work on issues important to current and future retirees. Two other Alliance leaders were also recognized, with former MD/DC Vice President Maria Cordone receiving the Founders Award and Ida Williams-Ward, President of AFSCME Retirees Chapter 1, receiving the Trustees Award.

If Social Security Disability Insurance Made a Difference in Your Life, Tell us how!
The Alliance is collecting stories to share with Congress on the important role Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) plays in the lives of Americans. SSDI provides a lifeline that nearly 9 million disabled workers rely upon to feed, clothe, and shelter their families. “If you or a family member has seen first-hand the value of SSDI benefits, the Alliance wants to hear from you,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. How has SSDI made a difference in your life and your family’s?  Please send your story to aracommunications@retiredamericans.org

Retiree Activists Gather at Indiana Alliance Convention
On Monday, an enthusiastic crowd of more than 100 attendees turned out for the Indiana Alliance Convention in Indianapolis. Coordinated by Indiana Alliance President Elmer Blankenship, convention delegates passed a number of resolutions including a measure addressing climate change. “We must remain vigilant against the Paul Ryan budget in order to keep the promise of Medicare alive,” said Ms. Easterling at the convention.

Maryland/DC Alliance Member James (“Jimmy”) Allen Passes Away
Jimmy Allen, a beloved member of the Maryland/DC Alliance and former President of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 689, has passed away at the age of 71. A committed labor activist, Mr. Allen also served many years as Vice President of the Maryland State/DC AFL-CIO and on the Executive Board of the AFL-CIO Metro Washington Council. He is survived by his wife, Sharon, and his daughter, Kimberly. “We will miss Jimmy’s sense of humor and kind nature,” said Mr. Fiesta. “He had many friends at the Alliance, and we will always remember him fondly.” For a photo from the funeral service honoring Jimmy, go to http://tinyurl.com/k8xf9ka.

For a printable version of this document, go to http://bit.ly/UQL2hy.

For the Alliance's Spanish language page, which includes last week's Friday Alert in Spanish, go to www.alianzadejubilados.org

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Congressperson, Jackie Walorski Votes Against Retirees.....Again.

Health Care Repeal II

The House passed a bill, introduced by Rep. Price, R-GA, that would prohibit the Treasury Department from implementing the Affordable Care Act. The 2010 law included several pro-retiree provisions including the elimination of co-pays and deductibles for preventive care screenings and an annual wellness checkup beginning in 2011. The law also included the closing of the Part D doughnut hole coverage gap and the phasing out of overpayments to Medicare Advantage insurance companies. The bill passed 232-185. A NO vote is a pro-retiree vote but Indiana Representative,  Jackie Walorski once again voted against retirees. H.R. 2009, Roll Call No. 447, August 2, 2013.

Friday, June 20, 2014

UNION VETERANS - The U.S. Mail is Not for Sale to Staples

For more than 235 years, the United States Postal Service (USPS) has been one of the nation’s largest employers of Veterans, second only to the Department of Defense.

Currently the USPS has nearly 120-thousand employees — 21 percent of the workforce — who have worn their military and postal uniforms with pride.

Staples attacks good jobs and public post offices.

Staples and the U.S. Postal Service have cut a deal that jeopardizes your mail service and your local post office. In fact, post offices across the country are at risk – along with thousands of good jobs.
The Staples deal will replace full-service U.S. Post Offices with knock-off post offices in Staples stores that are not staffed with U.S. Postal Service employees.

A bad deal for workers and consumers.

You have a right to post offices staffed by workers who are accountable to you and the American people. You have a right to postal services provided by highly trained, uniformed Postal Service employees, who are sworn to safeguard your mail – whether it’s at the Post Office or Staples.

The Staples deal is bad for consumers like you who will pay the same for less service. And if Staples and the USPS move forward with this deal, it could lead to the end of the Postal Service as we know it.

Undermining good jobs.

In the meantime, the Staples deal is replacing good-paying jobs that our community depends on with low-wage jobs that hurt our economy.

Tell Staples: The U.S. Mail is Not for Sale!

Text POSTAL to 91990 or visit StopStaples.com.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Union Veterans

IAM Retiree and activist Joe Reilly, a 101st Airborne paratrooper on D-Day, will be featured on NBC Nightly News’ D-Day 70th Anniversary coverage on Friday, June 6 at 8 p.m. EDT. Reilly, 94, is a 58-year IAM member in his 28th year of retirement. He remains active in the IAM and in politics in his home state of California. Click here to read more about Reilly. http://www.goiam.org/index.php/imail/latest/12842-iam-retiree-d-day-vet-joe-reilly-to-appear-friday-on-nbc-news

The IAM scored a second important organizing victory, this time for 475 office and clerical personnel employed by L3 at the Corpus Christi Army Depot (CCAD) in Corpus Christi, TX. This follows an April organizing win for 450 helicopter mechanics and technicians at the same facility. http://www.goiam.org/index.php/imail/latest/12917-machinists-win-back-to-back-organizing-drives-in-texas-

It’s Time to Staff the VA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-Wgh12yRMs

 LIUNA: Fix Our Bridges, Roads; Fund the Highway Bill

With the Highway Trust Fund running out of money, thanks to congressional inaction, crucial highway and bridge repair projects could be shut down starting this summer. On Monday, the Laborers (LIUNA) launched a 22-city “Getting Schooled in Infrastructure” tour to spotlight the need to pass a long-term, full-investment highway bill this year in order to keep the nation’s roads and bridges from falling into even more dangerous disrepair.

http://www.aflcio.org/Blog/Political-Action-Legislation/LIUNA-Fix-Our-Bridges-Roads-Fund-the-Highway-Bill


Monday, June 16, 2014

Indiana Congresswoman Jackie Walorski Votes Against Retirees

Health Care Repeal 1

The House passed health care reform repeal legislation, introduced by Rep. Bachmann, R-MN. The 2010 Affordable Care Act included several pro-retiree provisions including the elimination of co-pays and deductibles for preventive care screenings and an annual wellness checkup beginning in 2011. The law also included the closing for the Part D doughnut hole coverage gap and the phasing out of overpayments to Medicare Advantage insurance companies. The bill passed 229-195. A NO vote is the pro-retiree vote. Indiana Congresswoman Jackie Walorski voted against retirees. H.R. 45, Roll Call No. 154, May 16, 2013.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert 6-13-14

Headlines:
Leaders in Washington Pushing to Strengthen and Expand Social Security;
Wild Week in Virginia Shifts Political Landscape;
Activists Plan Events in Response to ALEC’s Annual Meeting in Dallas;
Millennials May Be Headed For Retirement Hardship;
North Carolina Alliance Holds Golf Tournament, Sees Great Results

Leaders in Washington Pushing to Strengthen and Expand Social Security
In a sign that the push to expand Social Security is continuing to build support, on Wednesday Senators Mark Begich (D-AK) and Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced the Retirement and Income Security Enhancements (RAISE) Act. The RAISE Act would enhance Social Security benefits for widows, widowers, and divorced spouses while extending benefit eligibility for children of retired, disabled, and deceased workers.
The RAISE Act is not the only proposal to expand Social Security. Last year, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) introduced the Strengthening Social Security Act (S. 567) in the Senate, with Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA) introducing a companion bill in the House (H.R. 3118). The Strengthening Social Security Act proposes adjusting the benefits formula to provide an increase in benefits for most beneficiaries and improving the program’s finances by lifting the earnings cap on Social Security contributions.

“With multiple expansion bills under consideration, it’s clear that an increasing number of leaders in Washington realize the importance of strengthening and expanding our Social Security system,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President for the Alliance. If you have not already signed the petition calling on senators to stand up in support of the RAISE Act, go to http://bit.ly/1jmKXYq.

Wild Week in Virginia Shifts Political Landscape
During a tumultuous week in Virginia politics, two politicians are now out of their posts in moves with major implications at both the state and national levels. At the national level, a shocking result in the Virginia GOP primary saw U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R) lose to Tea Party candidate David Brat. Following the loss, Rep. Cantor announced his resignation from the Majority Leader position, effective July 31st. Cantor’s loss will have ripple effects throughout the House Republican leadership. The result is also expected to revitalize the Tea Party after a primary season in which Tea Party candidates nationwide have otherwise had little success challenging establishment Republicans. Cantor has a 2% lifetime voting record with the Alliance (http://tinyurl.com/kxfrped). Read more on Cantor’s defeat at http://cnn.it/TNTCNE.

Earlier in the week, on Monday, Virginia Republicans had taken control of the state Senate after the unexpected resignation of Democratic state senator Phillip P. Puckett. Republicans now control the Virginia Senate by a 20-to-19 margin. Following the resignation, Republicans immediately ended a budget standoff that had threatened to shut down the state’s government in the coming weeks. The impasse was brought on by a proposed Medicaid expansion under the terms of the Affordable Care Act. Expanding health coverage to 400,000 low income Virginians has been a top priority for Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D). Mr. McAuliffe had traveled to hospitals that serve the poor in rural districts of conservative lawmakers, seeking to pressure them to endorse his plan to join the 26 states that embraced Medicaid expansion under the president’s health care law. He is now widely believed to be studying how to enact a Medicaid expansion without the legislature.

“Any time the health care of 400,000 people is put at risk, it is extremely unfortunate,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance.

Puckett’s resignation was clouded in controversy as news quickly leaked that he was set to receive a job as deputy director of the state’s Tobacco Commission and that his daughter was in line for a judicial appointment. Puckett subsequently removed himself from consideration for the Commission post. For more on the resignation, go to http://wapo.st/Uwdbus.

Activists Plan Events in Response to ALEC’s Annual Meeting in Dallas
The shadowy American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) will be heading to Dallas from July 30th to August 1st for its annual meeting. The Dallas-Fort Worth area chapters of the Texas Alliance for Retired Americans are working with North Texas Jobs with Justice and an anti-ALEC coalition to organize a number of upcoming events in order to draw attention to ALEC’s anti-retiree and anti-worker agenda, putting pressure on ALEC-linked politicians to cut ties with the corporate-backed organization. The events kicked off this Thursday with a teach-in and concert featuring folk musician and political activist Anne Feeney. Numerous grassroots actions, including workshops and protests, will be held in the Dallas area through late July. The main protest and rally will take place on July 30th. For more on the upcoming events, see the flyer at http://bit.ly/1jmENHD.

Millennials May Be Headed For Retirement Hardship
A recent Merrill Lynch survey looking at generational attitudes towards retirement security suggests that millennials expect Social Security and employer-provided pensions to make up less of their retirement income than previous generations. Millennials, a term researchers and commentators often use to refer to those with birth years ranging from the early 1980s to the early 2000s, expect to rely more heavily on employment income and personal savings. With record levels of student debt, high unemployment rates curbing future earnings, and low rates of retirement savings, millennials may be counting on savings that don’t ever materialize. According to New Republic, if millennials’ expectations about relying on personal savings prove accurate, these younger workers may face economic hardship in retirement or be left working for years longer than previous generations.

“This survey underscores the importance of strengthening Social Security and protecting pension programs so that our children and grandchildren are able to enjoy a dignified, secure retirement,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer for the Alliance. More at  http://bit.ly/1hN3wK5.

North Carolina Alliance Holds Golf Tournament, Sees Great Results
On Monday, the North Carolina Alliance for Retired Americans held their 3rd Annual Golf Tournament at Holly Ridge Golf Links in Archdale, NC. Twenty-one golfers, 10 sponsors and 30 donors took part! Congratulations go out to SEIU member Lewis Sasse, who won the affiliate's first ever raffle. The prize was a 42-inch flat screen HDTV. “This year’s golf tournament was our most successful to date,” said North Carolina Alliance President Jim Moore. “Thank you to all of our volunteers & sponsors.” To view a photo from the event, go to http://tinyurl.com/q2zafpz.

For a printable version of this document, go to http://tinyurl.com/mxllppw.

For the Alliance's Spanish language page, which includes last week's Friday Alert in Spanish, go to www.alianzadejubilados.org

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Indiana AFL-CIO Endorsements

NEWS RELEASE

For Immediate Release: Monday, June 9, 2014
Media Contact: Jeff Harris, Indiana State AFL-CIO, 317.632.9147

INDIANA STATE AFL-CIO ENDORSES CANDIDATES FOR 2014 GENERAL ELECTION
Federation of labor unions endorses candidates that support working families

INDIANAPOLIS — Today the Indiana State AFL-CIO, a statewide federation of labor unions representing more than 300,000 active workers, announced endorsements of candidates for the 2014 General Election.

The endorsements are based on voting records, in-person interviews and responses to a questionnaire issued to all candidates. Affiliates of the Indiana State AFL-CIO met on Friday in Indianapolis to review the information and vote on endorsements.

The following candidates were endorsed for the 2014 General Election:

Statewide Offices:
Secretary of State: Beth White (D)
State Auditor: Mike Claytor (D)
State Treasurer: Mike Boland (D)

U.S. House of Representatives:
District 1: Pete Visclosky (D) (I)
District 2: Joe Bock (D)
District 3: Justin Kuhnle (D)
District 4: John Dale (D)
District 5: Shawn Denney (D)
District 7: Andre Carson (D) (I)
District 8: Tom Spangler (D)
District 9: Bill Bailey (D)

Indiana State Senate:
District 1: Frank Mrvan (D) (I)
District 4: Karen Tallian (D) (I)
District 6: Roxanna Hanford (D)
District 15: Jack Morris (D)
District 25: Tim Lanane (D) (I)
District 27: Jake Hoog (D)
District 29: J.D. Ford (D)
District 38: Tim Skinner (D) (I)
District 41: Andy Talarzyk (D)
District 43: Rudy Howard (D)
District 45: Julie Berry (D)
District 46: Chuck Freiberger (D)
District 47: Richard Young (D) (I)
District 48: Larry Vollmer (D)
District 49: Jim Tomes (R) (I)

Indiana House of Representatives:
District 1: Linda Lawson (D) (I)
District 2: Earl Harris (D) (I)
District 3: Charlie Brown (D) (I)
District 4: Deb Porter (D)
District 6: B. Patrick Bauer (D) (I)
District 7: David Niezgodski (D) (I)
District 8: Ryan Dvorak (D) (I)
District 9: Scott Pelath (D) (I)
District 10: Chuck Moseley (D) (I)
District 11: Jim Metro (D)
District 12: Mara Candelaria Reardon (D) (I)
District 14: Vernon Smith (D) (I)
District 15: Jim Wieser (D)
District 16: Rich Ludington (D)
District 19: Shelli VanDenburgh (D) (I)
District 21: Jodi Buoscio (D)
District 27: Sheila Klinker (D) (I)
District 29: Joseph Marcum (D)
District 30: Chuck Sosbe (D)
District 32: Bob Ashley (D)
District 33: Shon Byrum (D)
District 34: Sue Errington (D) (I)
District 35: Melanie Wright (D)
District 36: Terri Austin (D) (I)
District 39: David Russ (D)
District 42: Mark Spelbring (D)
District 43: Clyde Kersey (D) (I)
District 46: Jim Mann (D)
District 52: Charlie Odier (D)
District 55: Glenn Bailey (D)
District 56: Phillip Pflum (D)
District 60: Damon Brodhacker (D)
District 61: Matt Pierce (D) (I)
District 66: Terry Goodin (D) (I)
District 68: Rick Gill (D)
District 70: Heidi Sellers (D)
District 71: Steven Stemler (D) (I)
District 72: Kevin Sue Bailey (D)
District 74: Chris Coyle (D)
District 76: Tony Goben (D)
District 77: Gail Riecken (D) (I)
District 78: Stephen Melcher (D)
District 80: Phil GiaQuinta (D) (I)
District 82: Mike Wilber (D)
District 84: Fred Haigh (D)
District 86: Ed DeLaney (D) (I)
District 87: Christina Hale (D) (I)
District 89: Debra Jenkins (D)
District 91: Patrick Lockhart (D)
District 92: Karlee Macer (D) (I)
District 93: Ryan Guillory (D)
District 94: Cherrish Pryor (D) (I)
District 95: John Bartlett (D) (I)
District 96: Gregory Porter (D) (I)
District 97: Justin Moed (D) (I)
District 98: Robin Shackleford (D) (I)
District 99: Vanessa Summers (D) (I)
District 100: Dan Forestal (D) (I)

(D = Democrat/ R = Republican/ I = Incumbent)

“We are proud to offer these endorsements and will do everything we can to help get these worker-friendly candidates elected to office,” said Brett Voorhies, Indiana State AFL-CIO president.

Additional endorsements of candidates slated in caucuses before June 30, 2014 may be made at a later date.

The Indiana State AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations) is a federation of 800 local unions across the state belonging to 50 International Unions. In total, the Indiana State AFL-CIO represents more than 300,000 working Hoosiers.

For more information on please visit www.inaflcio.org or call 1-800-433-8423.

###


Friday, June 06, 2014

Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert 6-6-14

Headlines:
GOP Calls for Repeal of Affordable Care Act are Fading Fast
The Alliance Submits Statement on “Observation Status” to Congress
Sen. Bernie Sanders Introduces Proposal to Overhaul VA
2,000 Detroit Pensioners Will Revote After Receiving Inaccurate Bankruptcy Ballots
Reps. Cole, Delaney Propose Bipartisan Commission to Improve Social Security
Report Ranks Minnesota Healthiest State for Retirees


GOP Calls for Repeal of Affordable Care Act are Fading Fast
In a sign that the harshest opposition to the Affordable Care Act may be softening, GOP candidates across the country are dropping calls to repeal the health care reform law and are instead spending this year’s election season talking about trying to “fix” it. Republican leaders in Washington who are still calling for repeal have yet to release their own comprehensive health reform proposal, and several Republican candidates have drawn criticism for failing to specify which portions of the Affordable Care Act they would seek to modify.

“With the Affordable Care Act, seniors are seeing expanded access to free preventive screenings, an end to insurance companies denying care due to pre-existing conditions, and the closing of the Part D prescription drug doughnut hole. The fact that voters won’t accept critics of the law continuing to call for its repeal is an indication that the Affordable Care Act is working,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary Treasurer for the Alliance. For more, go to http://wapo.st/1kuIHSI.

The Alliance Submits Statement on “Observation Status” to Congress
On Tuesday, the Alliance submitted a statement for the record of a House Ways & Means Subcommittee on Health hearing entitled “Current Hospital Issues in the Medicare Program.” The statement focuses on the widespread placement of seniors under an observation status designation during multi-day hospital stays. Increasingly, hospitals have been placing patients under observation status rather than admitting them as inpatients. This distinction is important, because an observation status label means seniors are considered outpatients during stays in the hospital. As a result, many seniors are spending multiple days in the hospital only to discover they are responsible for both higher copays and bills for routine medications unrelated to their stay.

The most dramatic consequences are often for seniors moving from hospitals to skilled nursing facilities. Since admission to these facilities requires a three day inpatient stay to be covered under Medicare, many seniors under observation status are released from the hospital only to discover that they have no coverage for post-acute care. These seniors often find themselves taking on thousands of dollars in unexpected bills or going without necessary skilled nursing facility care altogether.

One solution is for Congress to pass the bipartisan bill “Improving Access to Medicare Coverage Act of 2013,” S.569 and H.R. 1179, introduced by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Susan Collins (R-ME) and Reps. Joe Courtney (D-CT) and Tom Latham (R-IA).

“Passage of the bipartisan Improving Access to Medicare Coverage Act would count the time patients spend in the hospital under observation status towards the three-day stay requirement and provide seniors with the full Medicare benefits they have earned,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director for the Alliance. Read the full Alliance statement at http://bit.ly/1kLEZjd

Sen. Bernie Sanders Introduces Proposal to Overhaul VA
In the wake of the recent scandal involving mismanaged care in VA hospitals, Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and John McCain (R-AZ) have struck a deal on bipartisan legislation to reform the Department of Veterans Affairs. Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Sanders has introduced a bill, the Restoring Veterans’ Trust Act, that would make a number of sweeping changes to the VA health program, such as implementing expedited hiring and firing authority for employees, opening 26 new facilities throughout the country, and making it easier for veterans to seek care outside the system when VA facilities unavailable. More at http://tinyurl.com/lfnsj9v.

2,000 Detroit Pensioners Will Revote After Receiving Inaccurate Bankruptcy Ballots
When ballots detailing Detroit’s proposal to restructure $18 billion in debt were sent out to 67,000 retirees, beneficiaries, and creditors last month, an estimated 2,000 Detroit retirees and workers received ballots with inaccurate information. As a result, these current and former workers will now have to revote on the proposal. The error involved data about Detroit’s plan to collect $239 million that the General Retirement System paid into worker annuity accounts over a 10-year period. While most of the ballots were unaffected, it is expected that the error could further complicate what is already widely viewed as a confusing process for the workers and retirees covered by the city’s general pension fund. Members of the bankrupt city’s General Retirement System have to approve the debt reduction plan for the proposal to move forward. New ballots will be sent out to the 2000 affected current and former workers. For more details on the revote, go to http://bit.ly/1x8Aaug.

Reps. Cole, Delaney Propose Bipartisan Commission to Improve Social Security
Last week, Reps. Tom Cole (R-OK) and John Delaney (D-MD) introduced a bill that would create a new bipartisan commission to examine ways to improve Social Security. The bill calls for a 13-member commission that would be given one year to propose a list of recommendations for improving the program and increasing the solvency of the Social Security system. Currently, Social Security has sufficient funds to pay full benefits through 2033 and funds to pay about 75% of scheduled benefits through 2087.

“We must be vigilant whenever anyone talks about ‘fixing’ Social Security – and that is how The Washington Post refers to the goals of this commission,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance. “At a time when more and more Americans are struggling to save for retirement, any proposal to improve Social Security should focus on expanding the program to better meet the needs of current and future retirees.” More at http://wapo.st/1hyOYOx.

Report Ranks Minnesota Healthiest State for Retirees
A United Health Foundation report looking at 34 different statistical measures ranked all 50 states based on the overall health and well-being of older Americans. The survey looked at various factors including obesity rates, access to care, and availability of quality nursing home beds.  In the final tally, Minnesota topped the list while Mississippi came in last. Though Minnesota had average rates of obesity among older adults, it benefitted from high proportions of able-bodied seniors, high rates of routine dental care, and high rates of activity during the brief Minnesota summers. For more on the study, go to http://on.mktw.net/1mP3QWk.

For a printable version of this document, go to http://bit.ly/1nnNoy0.

For the Alliance's Spanish language page, which includes last week's Friday Alert in Spanish, go to www.alianzadejubilados.org



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