The mission of the Alliance for Retired Americans is to strive for social and economic justice, and civil rights for all citizens to enjoy lives with dignity, personal and family fulfillment, and security. The Alliance believes that all older and retired persons have a responsibility to strive to create a society that incorporates these goals and rights and that retirement provides them with opportunities to pursue new and expanded activities with their unions, civic organizations and their communities.

Friday, September 12, 2014

This morning, the Alliance for Retired Americans (ARA) announced its endorsement of Congresswoman Annie Kuster for reelection to the U.S. House of Representatives this November. The endorsement was made at the Senior Activity Center in Nashua.

“I’m so pleased to receive the endorsement of the Alliance for Retired Americans, an organization that is looking out for the best interests of Granite State seniors,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “Since day one in office, I pledged to always stand up for the programs our seniors rely on, like Medicare and Social Security, and I’ll will never stop fighting against the reckless cuts proposed by extreme Tea Party candidates like my opponent. Our seniors have paid into these programs their whole lives, and we must protect the benefits they’ve earned and deserve.”

The Alliance for Retired Americans has endorsed Congresswoman Kuster because of her commitment to improving the lives of Granite State seniors. She has a clear record of standing up for seniors in the state, and she’s worked to protect Medicare and Social Security from harmful cuts. She also recently helped introduce the Social Security Caregiver Credit Act, which would help ease the financial burden on individuals who are serving as caregivers for their elderly relatives more than 80 hours per month.

“New Hampshire retirees need to make sure we elect representatives to Congress who support our essential senior programs like Social Security and Medicare. Without those programs the $4 billion plus in Social Security income we receive and spend locally, and the volunteer work we are able to do as we stay healthy with Medicare would not be possible. Congresswoman Kuster works very hard to keep our economy growing, and she understands the contributions Granite State seniors make. That’s why the Alliance for Retired Americans, a nation-wide group of over 4.2 million members, and our New Hampshire Alliance, with 14,000 members, endorse Congresswoman Ann McLane Kuster for Congress in New Hampshire’s 2nd District.  We know retirees and their families can count on her!” said Lucy Edwards, President of the New Hampshire Alliance for Retired Americans.

Congresswoman Kuster represents New Hampshire’s Second Congressional District, and is up for reelection this fall. Her Republican opponent is a Tea Party candidate who supports privatizing Social Security and slashing other programs that Granite State seniors and their families rely on.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Cost of Medicare is actually going down!

More and more good news coming out about the costs of Medicare and the viability of the program!
This year, Medicare, which covers those 65 and older and people with disabilities, will spend about $11,200 on average for every person enrolled in the program. By comparison, it spent $12,000 three years ago, in inflation-adjusted dollars. The Congressional Budget Office forecasts that the number will fall below $11,000 by 2017 and stay below this year’s number until 2020.
If you have a representative in Congress or a candidate for Congress who tries to tell you that Medicare has to be cut or "voucherized" to keep the country from going bankrupt, be sure you let them know about these new figures.
The second factor is more surprising and consequential. Over the last few years, Medicare patients have been using fewer expensive medical services, particularly hospital care and prescription drugs. The budget office is increasingly persuaded that such a pattern is going to last for a while.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

What does the minimum wage have to do with Social Security?

Remarks by Lucy Edwards, President of the New Hampshire Alliance for Retired Americans, at the press conference with AFSCME, NH Citizens Alliance for Action and others to hold United States Senator Kelly Ayotte accountable for her lack of accountability to NH Voters. Ayotte does not see the need to vote to raise the minimum wage even though there is proof beyond a shadow of a doubt that families cannot survive on minimum wage earnings. Food and empty gas can represent what little a head of household earning min wage can afford for their family.
Recently some of our members received a letter from Senator Ayotte in response to requests for her to consider voting to raise Social Security benefits.  Her reply was so incredibly tone deaf that we have to conclude that she is simply not listening.  Besides referring to Social Security and Medicare as “entitlements” - they are earned benefits, Senator! - the next sentence was about the national debt!  And then, of course, how we must “reform” our senior safety net by cutting benefits.
So what does this have to do with the minimum wage?  Once you understand that the Social Security benefit is calculated on lifetime earnings, and that the Trust Fund is funded from current earnings, you can immediately see that if a person makes more money, not only do their benefits on retirement increase, but the amount they pay into the Social Security Trust Fund increases today.  Raising the Federal minimum wage, passing the Paycheck Equity legislation through Congress, and funding projects that create jobs all bring immediate returns to the Trust Fund, extending its ability to pay full benefits into the future.  All of these initiatives, which the Republicans in Congress are obstructing, would increase the standard of living for working families today and when they retire. The only solutions Senator Ayotte can see to our financial problems are cuts to earned benefits. She has made it clear that getting rid of subsidies to industries that are already obscenely profitable or raising taxes on the 1% are off the table as ways to close the debt gap. Senator Ayotte has blinders on.
Raising the minimum wage is a no-brainer in so many ways!  Our local businesses suffer from lack of customer demand, because potential customers often don’t have the income to buy much more than the necessities. Somehow Senators like Ayotte have been so blinded by trickle-down economics, a much debunked economic theory, that they forget that the phrase in Economics 101 is “supply AND demand.” Better incomes lead to a better standard of living, and better health, reducing health care costs.  Better incomes lead to better funding for schools, leading to more educated young people who will again have better jobs and even start their own businesses.  We could go on and on. Raising the minimum wage, and other policies that support working families, are a positive feedback economic engine.  And they’re good for Social Security too!  

Friday, August 22, 2014

Your friends, family and neighbors need to know this!

What can you do to assure that you get to keep the benefits of the Affordable Care Act for yourself?  Make sure all the other voters you know understand that there are a lot of lies flying around about the new healthcare law.  Here's a good article to start with, The Five Biggest Lies About Obamacare. Read it through and share it with others. Here's the conclusion:
...But certainly the preponderance of the evidence so far is that the apocalyptic predictions just aren’t coming true at all. Granted, there’s a lot of other news going on lately, but this is the real reason why Obamacare has kind of dropped out of the news cycle: Republicans aren’t bashing it quite so much anymore, because even they see it’s kind of working. 
The damage they’ve already done is considerable. “Health care is a topic that people feel particularly close to as it involves the most important decisions people make; it is also a topic people can feel incredibly anxious about for the same reason,” says Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress and a former administration health-care official. “The right wing has preyed upon those anxieties by manufacturing one lie after another to create a veil of opposition against a bill that has so far been pretty effective at covering people and lowering costs.  It is an indictment of our policy deliberations as a country that these lies have been so effective.” Slowly, the truth is catching up.
Remember, those who will lie about this will lie to you about other benefits as well.  Seniors should do their homework and vote in self-defense.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Senator Ayotte, you are not listening

I received an e-mail letter from Senator Ayotte on the subject of Social Security and Medicare (or as she calls them, "entitlements.") I would like to suggest to her that if she REALLY is interested in making sure that these earned benefit programs are available into the future, she consider some really simple solutions.

First, to fund the Social SecurityTrust Fund so that it can pay benefits indefinitely, we could do some combination of the following:

  • Raise the minimum wage.  If incomes are higher, payments into the trust fund are higher.
  • Raise the income cap.  If higher earners have to pay on more of their earnings, the payments into the trust fund will be higher.
  • Pass the Paycheck Fairness Act. If women earn more, their payments into the trust fund will be higher.
  • Vote for infrastructure funding and other stimulus programs to raise the number of jobs and the pay for workers.  If more people are working, and making decent incomes, the payments into the trust fund will be higher.  AND life both today and in retirement will be much better for ALL Americans.
I would also remind her that the Affordable Care Act is already lowering the rate of growth of healthcare costs, including Medicare.  More preventative care, less spending on high cost procedures, correcting the overpayments for Medicare Advantage policies, and reining in fraud will help keep costs under control.  Don't repeal the ACA!

We could also discuss the use of the national debt (for which Republican presidents are mostly responsible) as a straw man ( but we will leave that for another discussion. 

Here is her letter: 

Thank you for contacting me regarding entitlement reform, particularly as it relates to Medicare and Social Security.  I appreciate hearing from you.
Our $17 trillion national debt threatens not only our economic prosperity but also our security and sovereignty.  I believe that it is my responsibility to analyze the underlying problems perpetuating the unsustainable growth in our federal debt and to make a real effort to solve them.  This includes evaluating all areas of the federal budget to determine where appropriate reductions can be made and making the necessary reforms to entitlement programs to ensure they are solvent for current and future generations.
Spending for major health and retirement programs, including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, will increase in coming decades, putting greater pressure on the rest of the federal budget.  According to the Office of Management and Budget, in fiscal year (FY) 2013, 66 percent of all federal spending was on entitlement programs, net interest, and other social safety net programs.  Unless significant actions are taken to address these programs' structural problems, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid will grow to consume every dollar of revenue raised by the government.
I also understand the importance of these programs and am aware of how many Americans rely on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.  As baby boomers continue to retire, health care costs and Social Security outlays will rise.  According to the most recent Medicare Trustees report, the Medicare Hospital Insurance (HI) Trust Fund has been running cash flow deficits since 2008.  The only thing keeping the program afloat financially is the sale of Treasury bonds in the Medicare Trust Fund - deficit spending.  According to the report, the Medicare HI Trust Fund will be insolvent by 2030.
In addition, the Social Security Trustees report that the Social Security program is now in a permanent cash flow deficit, meaning that as baby boomers retire, the Trust Funds are obligated to pay out more benefits than there are incoming payroll taxes.  This means that to pay benefits, the government must cut spending, raise taxes, or borrow more money from overseas to finance payments.  The Trustees estimate that the Social Security Trust Funds will have a shortfall of $9.6 trillion over the next 75 years and will be exhausted in 2033.  This means that in just 20 years beneficiaries would have to see a 23 percent benefit cut.
I believe we need to ensure the long-term viability of entitlement programs.  In strengthening entitlements, we should ensure that those in or near retirement will not be negatively impacted by any reforms.  However, the longer we put off reforming entitlements, the more difficult changes will be on those nearing retirement.  In order to strengthen entitlements, members of both parties will need to muster the political courage to stop putting off the tough decisions that need to be made in order to preserve these programs and protect the economic strength of our country.
Again, thank you for taking the time to contact me.  As your Senator, it is important for me to hear from you regarding the current issues affecting New Hampshire and our nation.  Please do not hesitate to be in touch again if I may be of further assistance.
Kelly A. Ayotte
U. S. Senator

Friday, August 15, 2014

Endorsing Senator Jeanne Shaheen for Re-Election on Social Security's Birthday!

L to R: Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans; Lucy Edwards, President of the New Hampshire Alliance for Retired Americans; Senator Jeanne Shaheen 

Remarks by Lucy Edwards, President of the New Hampshire Alliance for Retired Americans:
Welcome to all of you, and thank you for coming!  My name is Lucy Edwards, and I serve as the President of the Executive Board of the New Hampshire Alliance for Retired Americans.
At this 79th anniversary for Social Security, I’ve been thinking a lot about this wonderful program and our New Hampshire retirees. It often seems that New Hampshire runs on volunteers, and like so many other of our seniors, I am a volunteer, not only for our Alliance but also on my town’s planning board. This year most of our board went to a conference put on by the New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning, and heard the latest statistics on our population and our economy. We knew that New Hampshire had one of the oldest populations in the country but now it seems we are getting older even faster than previous thought.  As the board charged with planning our land use in the future we are asking ourselves, “How will we help our town deal with this changing demographic?”
One thing I am very sure of is that we will need Social Security and Medicare to be flourishing programs, so that we all can retire with dignity and security. I cannot think of a better champion for our senior safety net than Senator Jeanne Shaheen. We know we can count on her to support Social Security and Medicare. We also know that her deep understanding of our state’s economy and culture, and her ability to bring people together will be an enormous asset to us as we move into a challenging future.
Senator Shaheen needs no introduction to those of us who live here. She has served as a State Senator, as our Governor for three terms, and now as our senior Senator in Congress. She knows this state inside out, and in Washington DC, even in these troubled times, we know that she understands our issues and will work to deal with them in thoughtful and caring ways.
At this time I would like to introduce Richard Fiesta, the Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans since December 2013. He has traveled from our nation’s capitol to join us today.  Mr. Fiesta has previously been the Alliance Director of Government and Political Affairs since 2001.  He served in the Clinton Administration in congressional and public affairs positions at the Departments of Labor and the Interior and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. He has spent his career working in the public and private sectors on issues that affect retirees from in health care and retirement security.
Welcome, Mr. Fiesta, to New Hampshire!

Text of the endorsement letter:

August 14, 2014

Senator Jeanne Shaheen
Jeanne Shaheen for Senate
PO Box 1510
Manchester, NH  03105

Dear Senator Shaheen,

The Alliance for Retired Americans, representing more than 4.3 million retirees, older Americans, and community activists including more than 13,135 members in New Hampshire endorses your candidacy for the United States Senate.

Your positions demonstrate a strong commitment to improve the quality of life for older Americans.  Your leadership on issues such as preserving and protecting Social Security and Medicare from privatization and benefit cuts ensures these programs will be around for current and future generations.  In addition, our members support your candidacy because of your belief in the need to provide more affordable health care for older Americans, as well as the need for stronger retirement and pension security, and quality long term care.
The Alliance for Retired Americans believes that your election to the Senate will enhance the quality of life for older Americans.  If we can be of assistance, please contact Eva Dominguez, Government and Political Affairs, at the Alliance.  We congratulate you on earning our endorsement.

Barbara Easterling                        Ruben Burks                                       Richard J. Fiesta
President                                 Secretary-Treasurer        Executive Director

Monday, August 4, 2014

Medicare D Premiums projected to remain low

On the heels of the 49th anniversary of the signing of Medicare and Medicaid into law, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) projected today that the average premium for a basic Medicare Part D prescription drug plan in 2015 will increase by about $1, to an estimated $32 per month, continuing its historically low growth rate.
This news comes after the announcements this week of continued unprecedented low levels of growth in Medicare spending and continued savings by seniors and people with disabilities on out of pocket drug costs.  According to the recent Medicare Trustees report, the life of the Trust Fund has been extended to 2030, up from its projection of 2017 in 2009.  The report also shows that Part B premiums are expected to stay the same rather than increase for the second year in a row.  Additionally, an HHS report found that per capita Medicare spending growth has averaged 2 percent over 2009 – 2012, and nearly 0 percent in 2013, one-third of the growth rate over the 2000-2008 period.  The Administration also recently announced that more than 8.2 million people with Medicare have saved over $11.5 billion since 2010 on prescription drugs as a result of the Affordable Care Act, an average of $1,407 per beneficiary.  The Affordable Care Act closes the donut hole over time.[*]
*It was New Hampshire's Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter who insisted this provision be including in the ACA.