Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert, March 23, 2012

Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–March 23, 2012.

Alliance Draws Attention to Benefits for Seniors on Affordable Care Act Anniversary

The Alliance marked today’s two-year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by holding 26 community events around the country, spotlighting new Medicare benefits and educating seniors on where elected officials and candidates stand on health reform. “The Affordable Care Act is helping seniors across the nation better afford to see a doctor and fill a prescription.  The 3.6 million seniors with the highest drug costs have already saved an average of $600 on their prescriptions.  Thirty-two million seniors have received free, life-saving tests for chronic diseases.  The law is closing the ‘doughnut hole’ coverage gap in Medicare Part D, an egregious example of pharmaceutical company profits being placed ahead of the health care needs of our seniors,” said Barbara J. Easterling, the Alliance’s President. To read her full statement, go to

In St. Louis, Missouri Alliance members were joined for an event featuring the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius. The Nevada Alliance held roundtables and press conferences in Henderson and Las Vegas. The North Carolina Alliance held a roundtable in Wendell, NC. Additional events included four educational events with seniors and students in Arizona; press conferences in Cape Coral, Florida; Dallas; Indianapolis; Pittsburgh; and across Wisconsin. The New York State Alliance held a press event in Albany.

Roundtables also took place in Denver, as well as in Des Moines, and Waterloo, Iowa. The Illinois Alliance protested at Rep. Aaron Schock’s office in Peoria, and the New Mexico Alliance held truth squads and presentations across New Mexico. The Washington State Alliance hosted cancer screenings in Gig Harbor, as well as additional events in Spokane and Renton, WA. The Oregon Alliance held an educational event at Rep. Kurt Schrader’s office. Other state chapters also celebrated the anniversary by helping to educate seniors about the benefits available to them through the ACA.

Bob Meeks, an Alliance member from Brandon, Florida, joined House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, and Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn for a press conference on Capitol Hill on Thursday. “In 2011, my monthly drug costs of $1200 a month went to between $600 and $800 a month while I was in the doughnut hole.  This has been a huge help to me and my wife,” said Mr. Meeks of the ACA.

Easterling Commemorates Anniversary with Speech, Conference Call with Reporters

On Monday, Ms. Easterling held a teleconference call with reporters and Reps. John Larson (CT), Xavier Becerra (CA), Jan Schakowsky (IL), and Doris Matsui (CA), talking about the benefits of health care reform for seniors. Easterling traveled to Boca Raton, Florida on Wednesday to discuss health care with the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) Retirees Chapter of New York City.

Obama, Romney Differ on Plan to Cut Medicare, Medicaid

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney sharply disagreed this week on a budget proposal by U.S. House Republicans that would dramatically change Medicare and Medicaid while lowering taxes on corporations and wealthy Americans.  The GOP presidential candidate praised it as “bold and exciting,” while a White House spokesperson called it, “a recipe for destroying Medicare as we know it… it is not a plan that this President could support.”  MD/DC Alliance president Frank Stella spoke at a Tuesday rally against the plan, and Alliance Executive Board member Bill Cea is joining Vice President Joe Biden today at an event in Florida to highlight the Administration’s opposition. Read some of Biden’s remarks explaining what’s at stake at

“Under the proposal, seniors would be given vouchers to either buy health coverage in the costly private insurance market, or purchase it from a Medicare program that would be made more expensive by the exodus of younger, healthier retirees,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance.  The plan would also cut spending on Medicaid and turn it over to cash-strapped states, jeopardizing the only way over 70 percent of seniors are able to afford long-term or nursing home care.  The budget plan, authored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), was approved by the House Budget Committee on Wednesday and is expected to be voted on by the full House next week.  Also, on the same day that Romney endorsed the Ryan plan, one of his top economic advisors, Greg Mankiw, was forced to apologize for a joke he shared on his blog about deporting seniors to lower Social Security and Medicare costs. For the Alliance’s latest fact sheet on the Ryan budget, go to

New Congressional Voting Record Now Available on the Web

The Alliance’s 2011 Voting Record is now available at The annual report details the voting record of every U.S. Senator and Representative on key issues affecting current and future retirees. This year’s voting record examines the roll calls on issues such as health care repeal; the Paul Ryan budget; and a balanced budget amendment. Check next week’s Friday Alert for a breakdown of the findings.

Oregon Alliance Holds its Convention

Approximately 50 retirees attended the 9th annual conference of the Oregon Alliance, held March 10 in Portland. Scott Blau was elected president; Linda DeLucia was elected first vice president; Roz Gieze was elected trustee; and Jim Davis was elected member at-large. Resolutions addressed campaign finance reform and called for Congress to reauthorize the Older Americans Act. The Alliance also issued a special award to past president Verna Porter.

Pennsylvania Alliance Mourns Loss of Two Leaders

The Pennsylvania Alliance is mourning the recent deaths of two leaders, Ray Myers and Kate Brennan. Mr. Myers was a founding Board member of PARA, and continued in leadership roles for the state chapter even while serving as national President of the Communications Workers’ Retired Members Council.  Ms. Brennan, also a PARA Board member, was a retired university professor who helped bring the Alliance to college campuses to educate students on health care and retiree issues.  “Ray and Kate were dedicated, passionate activists.  We honor their memories whenever we stand up for social and economic justice,” said Ms. Easterling.