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Leo W Gerard: Trump’s Budget Slashes Opportunity

A few hundred billion cut here, a few hundred billion slashed there, and the Trump budget proposal released this week adds up to real crushed opportunity.

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The spending plan slices a pound of flesh from everyone, well, everyone who isn’t a millionaire or billionaire. For the rich, it promises massive tax breaks.

There are cuts to worker safety programs, veterans’ programs, Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, food stamps, vocational training, public education, environmental protection, health research and more. So much more. The list is shockingly long.

Each incision is painful. But what’s worse is the collective result: the annihilation of opportunity. The rich can buy opportunity. The rest cannot. What was always special about America was its guarantee of opportunity to everyone. All who worked hard and pulled themselves up by their  bootstraps could earn their own picket-fenced home. This budget terminates the goal of opportunity for all. It declares that the people of the United States no longer will help provide boots to those who lost jobs because of NAFTA, the residents of economically depressed regions, the children of single mothers, the sufferers of chronic diseases, the victims of natural disasters. No bootstraps for them. Just for the rich who hire servants to pull the straps on their fancy $1,500 Gucci footwear.

The minimum-wage servant class doesn’t have a prayer under this budget. Trump condemns them to a perpetual prison of poverty. His budget denies them, and even their children, the chance to rise. It treats no better the precarious middle class and workers whose jobs are threatened by imports. It even screws veterans.

Achieving the American Dream depends on a good education, and the Trump budget would extinguish that possibility for tens of millions. The breadth and depth of the cuts to public education are gobsmacking. They’ll enable billionaire Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to use the money instead to subsidize private school tuition for the Gucci class.

While DeVos helps the already-rich attend pricey private schools, she and Trump would cut $345.9 billion from public education, training, employment and social services. That includes $71.5 billion from public elementary, secondary and vocational education. They’d take $11.4  billion from education for disadvantaged children and $13.9 billion from special-needs children.

They’d withdraw $183.3 billion from higher education including $33 billion from financial assistance. They say to kids who failed to be born to wealthy parents – too bad for you, no low-interest student loans for brilliant poor students and far fewer grants for the talented who could cure cancer if only they could afford college tuition.

Many of these aspiring students can’t turn to their parents for help because they’ve lost jobs as manufacturers like Rexnord and Carrier closed American factories and shipped jobs to Mexico or China. Trump and DeVos would also decimate help for the parents to get back on their feet, eliminating $25.2 billion for training and employment.

If the parents’ unemployment insurance runs out as they search for new jobs and their cars are repossessed, mass transit may not be an option for commuting to new positions. Trump would cut it by $41.6 billion.

If a furloughed worker in North Dakota or Minnesota or Pennsylvania can’t afford to pay the heating bill, Trump’s government would no longer help. He would eliminate entirely the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, ending aid that can mean the difference between life and freezing to death for 6 million vulnerable Americans.

If laid-off workers ultimately also lose their homes to foreclosure, Trump is unsympathetic. He’d cut $77.2 billion from housing assistance. His advice: take your bootless feet and live in the street.

And don’t expect any government cheese once there. Trump would carve $193.6 billion out of food stamps. He doesn’t even spare infants, with an $11.1 billion smack to the program that feeds pregnant women and their babies. School kids can’t expect food either. Trump and DeVos say too bad for them if they can’t hear their teachers over their growling stomachs. Trump takes nearly 21 percent away from the Agriculture Department, which subsidizes school lunches for low-income kids.

Trump also stiffs families that lose their health insurance because they can’t afford COBRA premiums after a job loss or can’t find new employment before their COBRA eligibility expires. Trump slashes $627 billion from Medicaid, and that’s on top of draconian cuts in his so-called health plan that would cost 14 million Americans their insurance coverage next year and 23 million over 10 years. Trump says: no health care for the down and out.

For the residents of West Virginia glens with closed coal mines, and the citizens of shuttered mill towns in Western Pennsylvania and the in habitants of Michigan municipalities struck down by offshored auto manufacturing jobs, Trump would purge $41.3 billion from the community development program that provides both jobs and otherwise unaffordable crucial municipal improvements.

The unemployed or under-employed who hoped for jobs in Trump’s promised $1 trillion infrastructure program receive no reprieve in this proposed spending plan. It removes $97.2 billion from airports, $123.4 billion from ground transportation and $16.3 billion from water transportation projects.

Trump is mulling sending thousands of new troops to Afghanistan, and for some young people with few options, that service is attractive because it comes with good medical and education benefits. But the Trump budget diminishes that chance at success as well, ripping $154.1 billion from veterans’ services including $94.4 billion from hospital and medical care and $511 million from veterans’ education and training.

For young people who thought the AmeriCorps program might be an employment substitute for the military, no luck. Trump’s spending plan abolishes that service program.

Trump’s $4.1 trillion budget redefines America.  No longer the land of opportunity, it would be a place of welfare for the rich in the form of million-dollar tax breaks and subsidies for exclusive private schools. For the rest, hope would be extinguished. For them, Trump’s budget would convert America the beautiful into America the hellish hole.

AFGE Union Says: Trump Budget Cuts Civil Service Pay, Jobs, And Benefits To Line CEO Pockets

Trump budget cuts civil service pay, jobs, and benefits to line CEO pockets, union says

Budget delivers huge tax breaks to CEOs and wealthy on backs of federal workers

WASHINGTON – President Trump’s budget funds huge tax breaks for corporations and the wealthiest Americans by slashing take-home pay, benefits, and jobs for the civil servants who care for our veterans, guard our borders, support our military, and ensure our health, the head of the largest federal employee union said today.

Federal workers would be forced to pay more toward their retirement – amounting to a six-percent pay cut – and would see those retirement benefits shrink through a change in how benefits are calculated and the elimination of annual cost-of-living adjustments.

“Thanks to years of pay freezes, meager wage hikes, and mandatory increases in retirement, federal employees earn 6.5 percent less today than they did at the start of the decade when adjusted for inflation,” Cox said. “President Trump’s budget continues this race to the bottom by penalizing the working-class people who serve and protect their fellow Americans.”

WATCH NOW: President Cox delivers a reality check on President Trump’s budget

 

 

Specifically, the budget would:

  • Increase current workers’ out-of-pocket payments toward their pensions by about 6 percent, not including payments they already make into the Thrift Savings Plan and Social Security.
  • Reduce future pension benefits by averaging an employee’s highest five years of salary, instead of the highest three years.
  • Eliminate annual cost-of-living adjustments for current and future employees under the Federal Employees Retirement System, and cut the COLA for employees under the older Civil Service Retirement System by 0.5 percent from the current formula.
  • Eliminate supplemental payments to employees who retire before age 62, such as law enforcement agents and firefighters.

“This budget rips away any sense of financial security that federal workers currently have and shows how little regard this administration has for the everyday Americans who keep our government running,” Cox said.

The retirement cuts total about $117 billion over a decade, which would be on top of $182 billion in cuts to federal employee pay and benefits since 2010. Federal employees also are at risk by budget proposals that would eliminate subsidized student loans and end student debt forgiveness for those who enter public service.

The budget also proposes eliminating thousands of current jobs, with significant cuts at the Environmental Protection Agency and the Agriculture, Interior, and Treasury departments.

“The federal government has roughly the same number of workers today as it did when Dwight Eisenhower was president, serving a population that has doubled in size,” Cox said. “Federal employees do a tremendous job serving the public with limited resources and little appreciation. Unfortunately, this budget stacks the deck against them by cutting their jobs, wages, and benefits – all to benefit Wall Street executives and the wealthy elite.”

Alliance for Retired Americans: House Health Care Vote is Appalling for Retirees, Older Americans

Raid of Medicare, cuts to Medicaid among the most problematic parts of the AHCA

The following statement was issued by Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, in response to the House vote today to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act with the American Health Care Act.

“Retirees and older Americans who are not yet eligible for Medicare are simply appalled by today’s American Health Care Act vote.

“This bill decimates Medicaid, with more than $800 billion in cuts. Medicaid pays for the nursing home care of millions of seniors and health care for people with disabilities. The $8 billion that the GOP added to their plan at the last minute is a mere drop in the bucket compared to their cuts.

“It also robs the Medicare Trust Fund to pay for tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires. That transfer of wealth from the sick to the wealthy is unconscionable.

“The House leadership’s decision to rush the floor action means that lawmakers voted on the bill without even obtaining updated figures from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

“CBO estimated that the original bill would leave 24 million more Americans without health insurance after a decade, due to repeal of the subsidies and the rollback of the ACA’s Medicaid expansion in states that adopted it. We cannot rule out the possibility that more than 24 million people would lose coverage under this version of the bill.

“Despite the wheeling and dealing and vote trading, the GOP repeal bill still drops the coverage guarantee for people with pre-existing conditions, strips coverage from millions and drives up costs for millions more.

“Among people ages 55 to 64, 84 percent had at least one pre-existing condition in 2014. That has not changed since the last vote.

“It is difficult to say what the cruelest aspect of this vote is, but raiding Medicare and cutting Medicaid surely remain at the top of the list.”

Hassan Joins Progressive Senators In Introducing Legislation To Bring Down Prescription Drug Prices

Proposal Improves Upon the Affordable Care Act By
Addressing Skyrocketing Drug Prices

WASHINGTON – Yesterday, Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined Senator Al Franken (D-MN) and others in launching a major push to improve upon the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by bringing down the skyrocketing price of prescription drugs, one of the main reasons why health care costs for seniors and families are rising.

The Improving Access to Affordable Prescription Drugs Act would help ensure that drug companies put patients before profits and bring much-needed relief to families and seniors, including many who have had to make the impossible choice between paying for a life-saving drug and putting food on the table.

“It is long past time for Congress to put patients first by coming together and acting to lower the cost of prescription drugs,” said Senator Hassan. “This major piece of legislation helps ensure that seniors and families can afford the medication they need through common-sense steps including cracking down on bad actors who hike the cost of prescription drugs that have been on the market for years or who play games to prevent competition. I will continue working with anyone who’s serious about addressing the rising costs of prescription drugs and ensuring that all Americans can afford critical care.” 

The landmark proposal, which the Senators said they want to see included in upcoming legislative debates, seeks to tackle prescription drug costs by increasing transparency and accountability, boosting access and affordability of key drugs, spurring innovation, and increasing choice and competition.  

The Senators were joined in introducing this legislative package, which is supported by a wide range of organizations and patient advocacy groups, by Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Jeff Merkley (OR), Tom Udall (D-NM), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Cory Booker (D-NJ).

You can read more about the legislation by clicking here or reading below:

The Senators’ legislation is supported by:

  • The American Medical Student Association (AMSA)
  • AFSCME
  • Housing Works
  • MoveOn
  • National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare
  • National Physicians Alliance
  • Other98
  • PFAM: People of Faith for Access to Medicines
  • Public Citizen
  • Social Security Works
  • Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM)
  • AFT
  • Doctors for America
  • Center for Medicare Advocacy
  • Alliance for Retired Americans

Improving Access to Affordable Prescription Drugs Act

Title I: Transparency

Section 101: Drug manufacturer reporting.

To better understand how research and development costs, manufacturing and marketing costs, acquisitions, federal investments, revenues and sales, and other factors influence drug prices, this section requires drug manufacturers to disclose this information, by product, to the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), who, in turn, will make it publicly available in a searchable format.

Section 102: Determining the public and private benefit of copayment coupons and other patient assistance programs.

To better understand how patient assistance programs affect drug prices and the extent to which drug makers are using independent charity assistance programs to drive up profits, this section requires independent charity assistance programs to disclose to the IRS the total amount of patient assistance provided to patients who are prescribed drugs manufactured by any contributor to the independent charity assistance program. It also requires a GAO study on the impact of patient assistance programs on prescription drug pricing and expenditures. 

Title II: Access and Affordability

Section 201: Negotiating fair prices for Medicare prescription drugs.

Medicare is one of the largest purchasers of prescription drugs in the country but, unlike Medicaid and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), it is not allowed to leverage its purchasing power to negotiate lower drug prices and bring down costs. This section would allow the Secretary of HHS to negotiate with drug companies to lower prescription drug prices, and directs the Secretary to prioritize negotiations on specialty and other high-priced drugs.

Section 202: Prescription drug price spikes.

Prescription drugs are priced in the United States according to whatever the market will bear and are sometimes subject to drastic and frequent price increases without apparent justification. This makes drugs increasingly unaffordable and creates significant uncertainty for patients’ and insurers’ budgets. This section requires the HHS Office of the Inspector General (HHS OIG) to monitor changes in drug prices and take steps to prevent drug manufacturers from engaging in price gouging. 

Section 203: Acceleration of the closing of the Medicare Part D coverage gap.

This section closes the Medicare Part D prescription coverage gap in 2018, two years earlier than under current law, providing faster financial relief to seniors, and requires drug manufacturers to pay a larger share of the costs during the coverage gap.  

Section 204: Importing affordable and safe drugs.

This section allows wholesalers, licensed U.S. pharmacies, and individuals to import qualifying prescription drugs manufactured at FDA-inspected facilities from licensed Canadian sellers and, after two years, from OECD countries that meet standards comparable to U.S. standards.

Section 205: Requiring drug manufacturers to provide drug rebates for drugs dispensed to low-income individuals.

This section restores prescription drug rebates for seniors who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid and extends these rebates to other Medicare patients in Medicare low-income-subsidy plans.

Section 206: Cap on prescription drug cost-sharing.

For plan years beginning in 2019 and later, this section caps prescription drug cost sharing at $250 per month for individuals and $500 a month for families enrolled in Qualified Health Plans and employer-based plans.

 

Title III: Innovation

Section 301: Prize fund for new and more effective treatments of bacterial infections.

This section creates a $2 billion prize fund at the National Institutes of Health to fund entities that develop superior antibiotics that treat serious and life-threatening bacterial infections and to fund research that advances such treatments and is made publicly available. In order to receive prize funds, recipients must commit to offering their products at a reasonable price, share clinical data, and take steps to promote antibiotic stewardship. 

Section 302: Public funding for clinical trials.

This section creates a Center for Clinical Research within the NIH to conduct all stages of clinical trials on drugs that may address an existing or emerging health need. 

Section 303: Rewarding innovative drug development.

This section amends various exclusivity periods awarded by the FDA to brand-name pharmaceutical companies in an effort to accelerate competition in the generic and biologics market. First, the bill modifies the New Chemical Entity (NCE) exclusivity period to allow FDA to accept a generic drug application for the branded product after three years rather than five. Second, this section would add in a requirement that products awarded the 3-year New Clinical Investigation Exclusivity must show significant clinical benefit over existing therapies manufactured by the applicant in the 5-year period preceding the submission of the application. Third, this section reduces the biological product exclusivity from 12 years to 7 years. 

Section 304: Improving program integrity.

This section would terminate any remaining market exclusivity periods on any product found to be in violation of criminal or civil law through a federal or state fraud conviction or settlement in which the company admits fault.

 

Title IV: Choice and Competition

Section 401: Preserving access to affordable generics.

This legislation would make it illegal for brand-name and generic drug manufacturers to enter into anti-competitive agreements in which the brand-name drug manufacturer pays the generic manufacturer to keep more affordable generic equivalents off the market. 

Section 402 and 403: 180-Day exclusivity period amendments regarding first applicant status and agreements to defer commercial marketing.

This section enables FDA to take away the 180-day generic drug exclusivity period from any generic company that enters into anti-competitive pay-for-delay settlements with brand-name drug manufacturers. 

Section 404: Increasing generic drug competition.

This section introduces new reporting requirements and financial incentives to promote and sustain competitive generic markets. 

Section 405: Disallowance of deduction for advertising for prescription drugs.

This section eliminates the tax breaks drug companies receive from the federal government for expenses related to direct-to-consumer advertising.

Section 406: Product hopping.

This section establishes a definition for the term “product hopping” and instructs the FTC to submit a report to Congress on the extent to which companies engage in these anti-competitive practices and their effects on company profits, consumer access, physician prescribing behavior, and broader economic impacts.

Trump Reneges On Promise To Reduce Prescription Drug Prices, Retirees Respond

Today, President Trump met with Big Pharma lobbyists and executives. After the meeting Trump was singing a new tune about Medicare negotiating drug prices with Pharmaceutical companies.

“I’ll oppose anything that makes it harder for smaller, younger companies to take the risk of bringing their product to a vibrantly competitive market. That includes price-fixing by the biggest dog in the market, Medicare, which is what’s happening. But we can increase competition and bidding wars, big time.

So what I want, we have to get lower prices, we have to get even better innovation and I want you to move your companies back into the United States. And I want you to manufacture in the United States. We’re going to be lowering taxes, we’re going to be getting rid of regulations that are unnecessary,” wrote Herb Jackson, the designated pool reporter for the day.

In typical GOP fashion, Trump plans to cut taxes and reduce regulations on drug manufactures which through some form of GOP magic will mean lower drug prices for seniors.

Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, called Trumps move an act of “betrayal.” 

“During his campaign Donald Trump promised that if elected, Medicare would negotiate bulk discounts and reduce the prices Americans pay for prescription drugs. 

“Donald Trump is now accusing Medicare of ‘price-fixing.’ It took just one meeting with global pharmaceutical corporation executives and his promise to older Americans is out the window. Welcome to the chameleon presidency. 

“Americans pay the highest prescription drug prices in the world. President Trump’s reversal will drive those prices even higher. He has sided with drug corporations against older Americans who have to choose between putting food on their table and paying for life-saving medicines. 

“On behalf of the 4.4 million members of the Alliance for Retired Americans, we are outraged but not surprised. We challenge him to meet with retirees who struggle daily to pay for medicine that too many times they can’t afford – and not just listen to multi-millionaire drug corporation executives. The Trump Administration will not be able to use its ‘alternative facts’ to wiggle out of this betrayal.”

This betrayal by President Trump added with the fact that the GOP led Congress is pushing a Medicare voucher plan means that many seniors may not be able to afford their life saving medications any longer.

Retirees Launch Campaign to Protect Medicare from Privatization

Washington, DC – Alarmed by the House Congressional Leadership’s plans to dismantle Medicare, the Alliance for Retired Americans today kicked off a grass roots campaign to block any attempts to cut or convert guaranteed, earned health benefits into a voucher or privatized scheme. Speaker Paul Ryan and Rep. Tom Price, whom President-elect Trump will nominate to be Secretary of Health and Human Services, both said that they were moving to “reform” Medicare in the next Congress.  

“Alliance members will use all the tools at our disposal to stop any plan to replace our guaranteed earned Medicare benefits with a system of ‘Coupon-care’ vouchers,” said Richard Fiesta, executive director of the Alliance. 

Today the Alliance joined allies in delivering more than one million petitions against the Republican plan to cut and privatize Medicare to House Speaker Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Before delivering the petitions, Fiesta spoke at a Capitol Hill news conference with Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Representatives Jan Schakowsky and Ted Deutch. Representatives from several other advocacy groups also spoke against cuts to Medicare. 

Alliance members will be directly lobbying members of Congress and Senators in Washington and in their home districts and stating their opposition to efforts to gut Medicare and Medicaid. More than 100 meetings have been planned so far, and the organization expects to reach 200 offices over the next few weeks.

The Alliance will also campaign online and feature dozens of personal stories about why Medicare’s guaranteed benefits are so important on its website, www.retiredamericans.org, and social media.

 “Our members are irate. They paid into the Medicare system for decades, and heard President-elect Trump repeatedly promise to protect their earned health care benefits. We will fight tooth and nail to protect Medicare from all those who try to turn the earned benefits of Medicare into Coupon-care,” said Fiesta. “Medicare must be protected, preserved and expanded for future generations, not dismantled.”

Governor Maggie Hassan Endorsed By National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare

CONCORD – Today, Governor Maggie Hassan was endorsed by the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare at an event at Havenwood Heritage Heights Senior Living Center.

(Governor Hassan and NCPSSM President and CEO Max Richtman)

(Governor Hassan and NCPSSM President and CEO Max Richtman)

“I am honored to have earned the endorsement of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare,” said Governor Maggie Hassan. “Here in New Hampshire we know that our seniors deserve a high quality of life with access to the full benefits that they have earned, and as Governor, I have made it a priority to support seniors in our state. That approach is in stark contrast to Senator Ayotte’s Washington record of standing with special interests like the Koch Brothers and voting to undermine Medicare and Social Security. In the Senate, I will always fight for Granite State seniors and protect Social Security and Medicare for years to come.”

“The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare is proud to endorse Governor Maggie Hassan for Senate, because we know she will fight to protect benefits for seniors,” said Max Richtman, President and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. “While Maggie Hassan stands with New Hampshire’s seniors, Kelly Ayotte has supported a special interest agenda in Washington that would cut the benefits that seniors earned throughout their careers. Governor Hassan will bring her bipartisan approach and commitment to problem solving to the Senate, and she will always fight to protect and strengthen Social Security and Medicare.”

Governor Maggie Hassan has a proven record of supporting seniors in New Hampshire. As Governor, Maggie signed a law that strengthened protections for seniors by making financial exploitation of elderly, disabled or impaired adults a criminal offense and another law requiring the state to develop an educational program on Alzheimer’s disease and provide training to law enforcement on Alzheimer’s. She also signed into law a seniors bill of rights, and required it to be posted in housing establishments for the elderly. And Governor Hassan signed the CARE Act, which improves patient care and supports caregivers who help make it possible for seniors to live independently at home. In 2015 the AARP honored Maggie as a Capitol Caregiver for her efforts.

As Senator, Maggie Hassan will fight to protect Social Security and Medicare, and strengthen these programs for years to come. She will stand up to those trying to turn Medicare into a voucher program, and she will fight any attempt to privatize or cut Social Security. She will also work to enhance Social Security by ensuring that caregivers can get credit toward their Social Security benefits when they take time off or reduce working hours to care for family members.

In Washington, Senator Kelly Ayotte has stood with her corporate special interest backers like the Koch Brothers – who she voted with nearly 90% of the time her first four years in office – in working to undermine Social Security and Medicare. Senator Ayotte cosponsored a bill opposed by AARP that would have cut $859 billion from Medicare and $1.3 trillion from Social Security, increasing out of pocket costs for those on Medicare and slashing Social Security benefits by nearly 20%. Senator Ayotte has voted to cut Medicare by turning it into a private voucher system, while also voting against protecting Social Security from benefit cuts. And Ayotte has voted to increase the retirement age for Medicare, and has signaled her openness to doing the same for Social Security.

Clinton-Kaine is an Excellent Fit for Retirees

Ticket is Ultimate Antidote to Worries that Trump-Pence would cut Social Security, Medicare

Robert Roach, Jr., President of the Alliance for Retired Americans, released the following statement regarding Hillary Clinton’s selection of Virginia Senator Tim Kaine as her Vice Presidential nominee:
Alliance For Retired Americans

“Senator Tim Kaine is a superb choice to be Vice President. The Alliance for Retired Americans was already energized about a Hillary Clinton presidency, and Senator Kaine is the icing on the cake. His 93% lifetime score from the Alliance for his pro-retiree votes is proof that he is the right person for the job.

“Secretary Clinton has been a champion for retirees throughout her distinguished career, and Senator Kaine has been throughout his. As a Governor and as a Senator, he has always had retirees’ best interests in mind. He has stated plainly that ‘we shouldn’t embrace radical reforms like the Ryan Plan or the privatization of Social Security,’ and that is music to our ears. Senator Kaine clearly opposes efforts to cut, privatize or shift Medicare costs to retirees.

“If you go down the list of what retirees want the most, Tim Kaine checks all the boxes. He has pledged to protect Social Security. Like Secretary Clinton, he would rein in prescription drug costs by allowing the Medicare program to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies for better prices, just as the Department of Veterans Affairs does.

“His life’s work exemplifies the Alliance’s mission to enhance the quality of life for all Americans. He will protect our traditional pension plans from attack.

“On the other hand, Donald Trump’s choice of Governor Mike Pence as his running mate locked in place a team that endangers the things that retirees care about the most: the protection and expansion of their earned Social Security and Medicare benefits. The contrast could not be starker. We are confident that the Clinton-Kaine team will give us the retirement security we need.

“The Alliance’s 4.4 million members and 1600 chapters will do all they can before Election Day to educate seniors on the differences between the Trump-Pence plans for seniors and the Clinton-Kaine plans. We look forward to working with a Clinton-Kaine Administration to expand our earned Social Security benefits.”

Kelly Ayotte’s Misleading New Seniors Ad Features State Legislators Who Voted to Privatize Social Security, Cut Medicare Protections and Alzheimer’s Program Funding

Ayotte releases new ad to buffer her credentials on Social Security, Medicare, and Alzheimer’s research support, but instead features two NH State Representatives who supported privatizing Social Security, dismantling Medicare, and cutting funding for an Alzheimer’s caregiver respite program

photo of Sen. Kelly Ayotte by Gage Skidmore via Flickr Creative Commons

Concord, NH – Sensitive to a recent TV ad critical of her votes to dismantle key programs for seniors, Kelly Ayotte has released a misleading response ad intended to buffer her credentials on Social Security, Medicare, and Alzheimer’s research support. The ad, however, features two New Hampshire State Representatives who are in lockstep with efforts to dismantle key programs.

NH State Representatives Mary Griffin (R) and Walter Kolodziej (R) – along with Kolodziej’s wife and one other individual – claim that Ayotte has protected seniors despite an ample vote record that shows Ayotte voted to turn Medicare into a voucher program and raise the eligibility age. The ad and copy also attempt to bolster Ayotte’s record in other areas, such as Alzheimer’s research funding. However, the voting records of Ayotte and those she trusts on senior issues would harm seniors on issues regarding Medicare, Social Security, and Alzheimer’s support:

  • Ayotte effectively voted for FY 2012 Ryan Budget, which replaced Medicare with a premium support plan. The plan would more than double out-of-pocket costs for the average Medicare enrollee. (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 4/7/11; Wall Street Journal, 4/4/11)
  • Ayotte effectively voted for the FY2013 Ryan Budget, which replaced Medicare with a voucher program, increased the eligibility age, reopened the donut hole, and repealed the Affordable Care Act. (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 3/28/12; AARP, Letter to Congress, 3/21/12)
  • Ayotte voted for FY 2014 Ryan Budget plan which would “replace Medicare’s guarantee of health coverage with a premium-support voucher.” (Senate Vote 46, 3/21/13; Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 3/15/13)
  • Ayotte voted for FY 2011 budget with deep cuts to agencies responsible for Alzheimer’s research. In congressional testimony on March 11, 2011, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that the proposed cuts would mean that “about half of the hundred largest clinical studies including those on cancer and Alzheimer’s would probably be canceled.” (Vote 36, 3/9/11; Politifact, 4/15/11)
  • Ayotte surrogates Kolodziej and Griffin voted for urging Congress to privatize all aspects of Social Security. Privatizing social security puts at risk benefits for New Hampshire’s current and future retirees. (HCR39, Roll Call #190, 3/21/2012)
  • Ayotte surrogates Kolodziej and Griffin voted for an Interstate Health Care Compact that sought to allow New Hampshire to opt-out of Medicare and other programs, and eliminate all federal minimum benefit guarantees and protections for New Hampshire seniors and others. (HB1560, Roll Call #87, 2/15/2012)
  • Ayotte surrogates Kolodziej and Griffin voted for suspending funding for the Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders (ADRD) program. The program provides temporary respite services to family members, partners and other informal caregivers who are caring for an individual diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or other related dementia. (HB2, Roll Call #143, 3/30/2011; DHHS, Accessed 21.16)

“Kelly Ayotte’s votes hurt Granite State seniors,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress. “Kelly Ayotte’s decision to feature individuals who support privatizing all aspects of Social Security and undermining protections for New Hampshire seniors and their caregivers sends a strong message regarding where her priorities sit.”

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 Granite State Progress is a progressive advocacy organization that addresses issues of immediate state and local concern. Granite State Progress works as a communications hub for the progressive community to provide a strong, credible voice in advancing progressive solutions to critical community problems.

Full Fact Check Citations

Ayotte effectively voted for FY 2012 Ryan Budget, which replaced Medicare with a premium support plan. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “CBO also finds that this beneficiary’s [a typical 65-year-old] annual out-of-pocket costs would more than double — from $6,150 to $12,500. In later years, as the value of the voucher eroded, the increase in out-of-pocket costs would be even greater.” [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 4/7/11] The Wall Street Journal wrote that “The plan would essentially end Medicare, which now pays most of the health-care bills for 48 million elderly and disabled Americans, as a program that directly pays those bills.” [Wall Street Journal, 4/4/11]

Ayotte effectively voted for the FY2013 Ryan Budget, which replaced Medicare with a voucher program, increased the eligibility age, reopened the donut hole, and repealed the Affordable Care Act. “The budget resolution developed by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) would make significant changes to Medicare. It would replace Medicare’s current guarantee of coverage with a premium-support voucher, raise the age of eligibility from 65 to 67, and reopen the “doughnut hole” in Medicare’s coverage of prescription drugs. Together, these changes would shift substantial costs to Medicare beneficiaries and (with the simultaneous repeal of health reform) leave many 65- and 66-year olds without any health coverage at all.” (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 3/28/12) AARP CEO Barry Rand said: “ … the proposal is likely to simply increase costs for beneficiaries while removing Medicare’s promise of secure health coverage — a guarantee that future seniors have contributed to through a lifetime of hard work.” (AARP, Letter to Congress, 3/21/12)

Ayotte voted for FY 2014 Ryan Budget plan which would “replace Medicare’s guarantee of health coverage with a premium-support voucher.” According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “The Medicare proposals in the 2014 budget resolution developed by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) are essentially the same as those in last year’s Ryan budget.  Once again, Chairman Ryan proposes to replace Medicare’s guarantee of health coverage with a premium-support voucher and raise the age of eligibility for Medicare from 65 to 67.” The vote was largely along party lines; Ayotte voted with Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell. (Senate Vote 46, 3/21/13; Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 3/15/13)

Ayotte voted for FY 2011 budget with deep cuts to agencies responsible for Alzheimer’s research. In congressional testimony on March 11, 2011, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that the proposed cuts would mean that “about half of the hundred largest clinical studies including those on cancer and Alzheimer’s would probably be canceled.” (Vote 36, 3/9/11; Politifact, 4/15/11)

Ayotte surrogates Kolodziej and Griffin voted for urging Congress to privatize all aspects of Social Security. Privatizing social security puts at risk benefits for New Hampshire’s current and future retirees. (HCR39, Roll Call #190, 3/21/2012)

Ayotte surrogates Kolodziej and Griffin voted for an Interstate Health Care Compact that – with permission from Congress – would give participating states the authority to opt out of all federal health care protections and programs, including Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act. This would have taken away not just all federal oversight, but all federal minimum benefit guarantees and protections for New Hampshire’s most vulnerable populations: states could drop seniors from Medicare coverage, eliminate our Medicaid and CHIP protections for vulnerable children, end Medicaid-sponsored long-term care services for elders and people with disabilities, terminate protections for children with pre-existing conditions, and stop the enforcement of laws protecting medical privacy. A compact state would be free to replace any and all of these previous federal programs and protections with risky and/or inadequate state-based schemes or, if a state so chose, not replace them at all. (HB1560, Roll Call #87, 2/15/2012)

Ayotte surrogates Kolodziej and Griffin voted for suspending funding for the Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders (ADRD) program. The program provides temporary respite services to family members, partners and other informal caregivers who are caring for an individual diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or other related dementia. (HB2, Roll Call #143, 3/30/2011; DHHS, Accessed 7.21.16)

The Alliance For Retired Americans Blasts Paul Ryan’s “Better Way” Plan

(HTTP://ABETTERWAY.SPEAKER.GOV)

(HTTP://ABETTERWAY.SPEAKER.GOV)

Ryan’s “Better Way” for Health Care Would be Dangerous for Seniors and Inferior to Current Medicare System

Seniors Would Have to Wait Until 67 for Coverage 

The following statement was issued today by Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, in response to House Speaker Paul Ryan’s release of “A Better Way” health care plan: 

“U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan calls his health care plan ‘A Better Way,’ but it is far inferior to the current system and dangerous for Americans.

“Seniors should not be misled. The Speaker wants to raise the Medicare eligibility age to 67 and change the program away from guaranteed benefits to a system of ‘premium support.’

“Premium support is a paltry substitute for the earned health care benefits that Americans have paid into throughout their lives and which they have a right to once they turn 65. 

“Ryan also wants to double down on one of the weakest parts of the current Medicare system. He would have Medicare adopt the so-called ‘competitive structure proven successful by Medicare Part D.’ Of course Part D has done nothing to rein in skyrocketing prescription drug prices for taxpayers or retirees and includes unnecessary giveaways for private insurance companies.

“If the Ryan plan were to be adopted, seniors would pay through the nose – with both their physical health and their financial health.”

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