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Senator Hassan Introduces Social Security Caregiver Credit Act To Provide Retirement Credit To Family Caregivers

WASHINGTON – Senator Maggie Hassan joined Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in introducing the Social Security Caregiver Credit Act – legislation that will create a Social Security Caregiver credit and provide modest retirement compensation to individuals who have had to leave the workforce or reduce their hours to care for a loved one. The bill will also authorize funds to provide medical training to family caregivers.

Tens of millions of Americans leave the workforce entirely or reduce their hours significantly to care for loved ones at some point in their career. Studies indicate that, on average, income losses due to caregiving total more than $300,000, threatening retirement security. Women, who make up two-thirds of unpaid caregivers, are disproportionately impacted.

“Granite Staters who exit the workforce to care for a loved one often sacrifice years of retirement savings and Social Security contributions, putting them at a disadvantage that can cause them to struggle financially later in life,” said Senator Hassan. “These caregivers should be provided modest retirement compensation for their work, which is essential to the health and well-being of our people and our communities. I’m proud to join Senators Murphy and Sanders in cosponsoring the Social Security Caregiver Credit Act to help ensure these individuals have a secure retirement.”

The Social Security Caregiver Credit Act will create a credit that would be added to an individual’s earnings to calculate their future Social Security benefits. In order to qualify, caregivers must provide care for a minimum of 80 hours per month to a parent, spouse, domestic partner, sibling, child, grandparent, aunt, or uncle who cannot perform daily living activities without assistance. The credit, which individuals can claim for up to 60 months, is progressive and would vary on an income-based sliding scale. A caregiver’s Social Security credit will decrease in value as the caregiver earns closer to the average national wage. The credit will phase out when the caregiver earns more than the average nation wage. Individuals who do not earn an income will receive a maximum credit equal to half of the average national wage.

The Social Security Caregiver Credit Act has been endorsed by the following organizations: The National Council on Aging, The National Organization for Women, The National Alliance for Caregiving, The Sibling Leadership Network, The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, Social Security Works, Autism Speaks, Latinos for a Secure Retirement, Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action, The Arc of the United States, and Washington State Senior Citizens’ Lobby.

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.

Image From Getty Images

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.”

CWA: Working People Will Fight Against Shameful Trump Budget

Following is a statement by CWA President Chris Shelton on the budget released today by the Trump Administration:

“President Trump’s budget is a slap in the face to millions of people who voted for him based on the promises he made on the campaign trail. During the election, Trump visited struggling communities and vowed to preserve and strengthen Medicare and Social Security. His first budget proposal shows that the promise was an outright lie.”

“The Trump budget takes a hatchet to Medicaid, Social Security disability benefits, food assistance for older Americans, food stamps, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), cutting these and other programs by more than $1.7 trillion in order to give an enormous tax cut to the wealthiest.”

“This budget is shameful. Millions of Americans would face draconian cuts to programs that help them with basic needs while billionaires pad their bank accounts with new tax breaks.”

“President Trump, contrary to his campaign promises, has put the concerns and interests of working families dead last. We’re putting Members of Congress on notice: working people will fight back against this vicious budget that targets average Americans in order to give a big handout to the top 1%.”

Alliance For Retired Americans: Trump’s Promise Not To Cut Social Security Broken

Budget Proposal Includes Deep Cuts to Health Care, Disability Insurance, Food Assistance and Massive Tax Breaks for Billionaires and Corporations 

The following statement was issued by Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, regarding President Trump’s fiscal 2018 budget proposal.

“President Trump has betrayed America’s seniors. His White House staff claims that the President’s budget does not cut ‘core’ Social Security benefits, which is a distinction without a difference. Cuts to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) are Social Security cuts plain and simple. They will weaken the earned benefits that millions have paid for during decades of work.

“Trump’s budget plan takes health care away from millions of Americans. At a time when 10,000 Americans are turning 65 every day, slashing Medicaid funds for elderly health care is wrong-headed and cruel.

“The budget follows through on the Trumpcare health bill passed by House Republicans and cuts more than $800 billion from Medicaid over 10 years. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that this could end Medicaid benefits for about 10 million people – including millions of seniors, the disabled, veterans and children.

“This budget also decimates the Community Development Block Grant, which provides funding to states and communities to fund home-delivered meals for home-bound seniors, through organizations such as Meals on Wheels.

“Trump’s proposal would cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by more than 25 percent, taking benefits away from the 45 million citizens, especially seniors, who need basic nutrition.

“All of this is in addition to slashing the earned pension benefits of current and future federal workers.

“Cutting pensions and other critical programs to fund tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans and highly profitable corporations, which pay little to no tax already, is an affront to working families.

“President Trump’s fiscal 2018 budget is a terrible mix of warped values and blatant dishonesty. The Alliance for Retired Americans will mobilize our 4.4 million members to see that it never advances.”

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.

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.”

Kuster Receives Endorsement of the Alliance for Retired Americans

Alliance For Retired Americans(Concord, NH) – Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) has received the endorsement of the Alliance for Retired Americans, a group that represents more than 4.3 million retirees nationwide, including 11,220 members in New Hampshire. The group endorsed Kuster for reelection to New Hampshire’s Second Congressional District because of her strong commitment to preserving Social Security and Medicare and her dedication to improving the lives of older and retired Americans.

“It’s an honor receive the endorsement of the Alliance for Retired Americans,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “Having cared for my mother, who had Alzheimer’s, I understand the importance of ensuring older Americans are able to retire and live their later years in dignity and with security. That’s why I’ll always fight to protect Social Security and Medicare, two of the most successful safety net programs in our nation’s history. As a member of Congress, I’m committed to strengthening these programs and working to increase access to healthcare and improve retirement for seniors in New Hampshire and across the country.” 

In their endorsement, the Alliance for Retired Americans wrote, “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 benefits 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.”

Social Security COLA Falls Short for Seniors

social securty 1Small cost-of-living increase triggers huge Medicare Part B premium hike for many retirees

American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. is calling on Congress to pass emergency legislation to prevent massive increases in Medicare Part B premiums for millions of retirees next year.

The government today announced a 0.3 percent cost-of-living adjustment for federal retirees and Social Security recipients. The COLA is based on the year-over-year change in the prices for goods and services purchased by hourly and clerical workers.

This small COLA has inadvertently triggered a massive increase in Medicare Part B premiums for the 30 percent of beneficiaries who do not currently receive Social Security benefits.

Premiums for Medicare Part B are expected to increase 23 percent next year, from $121 a month to $149 a month. A so-called “hold harmless” provision prevents Medicare Part B premiums from increasing by more than the dollar increase in an individual’s Social Security payment. But for the 16 million retirees who don’t receive Social Security, including 1.6 million federal retirees under the Civil Service Retirement System, the full increase must be paid unless Congress acts.

“Congress must act now to prevent a massive increase in Medicare Part B premiums for this group of retirees,” Cox said. “Although most seniors would be protected, this group will have to pay more solely because of the uniqueness of their pension system.”

Congress last year extended the hold harmless provision to cover all Medicare Part B beneficiaries when there is no cost-of-living adjustment. However, this provision does not apply when there is a small COLA, as there will be in 2017.

Even without the increase in Medicare Part B premiums, retirees will have to tighten their belts to account for next year’s miniscule cost-of-living adjustment. Retirees already are facing a 6.2% increase in their health insurance premiums next year.

“Prices for many items that seniors must purchase are rising faster than the overall inflation rate,” Cox said. “Forcing this group of retirees to shoulder such a huge cost burden will have a devastating impact on their already modest living standards.”

The Alliance for Retired Americans have been pushing to increase Social Security benefits and change the way cost of living is calculated.

“The Alliance for Retired Americans is deeply disappointed by the announcement today that there will be a miniscule 0.3% benefit increase for millions of Social Security beneficiaries in 2017,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans. “For the average retiree, that means just a $5.00 per month increase, not enough to keep up with the cost of their prescription medications. This follows a 0% COLA in 2016. Most retirees are going to continue to have a hard time paying for basic necessities.”

“That’s why Congress must expand earned Social Security benefits and change the formula used to calculate future COLAs to the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E).  The CPI-E would base the calculation on what seniors actually spend their money on. That list includes items such as health care and housing, which account for most retirees’ spending,” Fiesta added. 

The AFL-CIO was “disappointed” with this COLA announcement.

“A weak increase that amounts to a mere $5.00 more a month for the average retired worker is a disappointment for the millions who rely on Social Security to stay afloat during retirement,” said Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO. “Protecting our seniors against inflation is one of the many obligations we have to retired Americans. The 2017 adjustment falls short of that goal because it fails to reflect seniors’ extraordinary expenses.”

 “The 2017 COLA not only fails to keep pace with seniors’ high health care and prescription drug costs, it also means millions of retirees, including many retired public employees, will be hit hard because the law fails to protect them against large Medicare Part B premium increases when inflation is low. State Medicaid budgets that cover Medicare premiums for low-income seniors similarly will be affected. We urge Congress to step in and limit the coming financial blow to thousands of vulnerable retirees and state budgets,” Trumka added.

Alliance For Retired Americans: Tell Your Senators To Expand Social Security, Not Destroy It

Alliance For Retired Americans

Washington – Today the Alliance for Retired Americans launched a digital campaign ad in five states, calling on Senators and Congressmen to strengthen and expand Social Security, not destroy it.

“Millions of retirees depend on Social Security’s modest earned benefits to make ends meet,” said Richard Fiesta, the organization’s executive director. “These politicians have repeatedly worked to weaken the system, and replace Social Security’s guaranteed earned benefits with risk-based schemes. Our members are asking them to support current and future retirees’ right to the secure retirement they have earned.” 

The ads feature children posing as retirees and stresses the importance of the Social Security system to Americans of all ages. The ads target people ages 55+ in Florida, Pennsylvania, Nevada, North Carolina and Missouri. A Spanish-language version will target Latino audiences in Florida and Nevada.

Each of the elected officials named in the ads has supported efforts to weaken Social Security through privatization, a higher retirement age, and/or means testing and has voted to slash funding for the Social Security Administration, increasing waiting times and lengthening decision-making times for retirees and other beneficiaries. 

The release of the ad supports field and grass roots efforts by Alliance members in each state. Retirees are holding demonstrations, news conferences and other events calling on the officials to publicly pledge to support Social Security and reject privatization, benefit cuts or means testing.

The Alliance for Retired Americans is a grass roots organization with 4.4 million members that works for the health and welfare of older Americans.

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