November 08, 2015
November/December President’s Message from NYS Alliance for Retired Americans President Barry A. Kaufmann
We have had a very eventful several weeks. Our issues have been in the forefront of discussion on the national stage and the next few months promise to continue the discussion of drug pricing through the TPP, systemic fixes to address Social Security COLA’s and temporary shortfalls in one of the two Social Security trust funds. These crisis were averted in the eleventh hour but were not systemically fixed. In New York State we are keeping our eye on a study, mandated in the 2016 NYS budget, that explores the creation of an office of community living, are actively supporting the issue of paid family leave in New York and are involved in the drive for $15 to increase the minimum wage from $9 to $15 in New York State.
The NYSARA Board of Directors at their October 21, 2015 meeting elected Gary Lanahan of the CSEA as Treasurer of NYSARA, appointed John Costello as the new NYSARA Executive Director, established a $250 annual award in honor of the memory of Dorothy Breen, Treasurer of NYSARA since its creation, passed a resolution to start the process of creating a 501(c)4 called the NYS Alliance for Retired Americans Educational fund to further the objective of educating our membership and furthering our legislative and political involvement to more effectively serve our members. The Board passed resolutions on Palliative care and on looking forward to 2016 that can be found under the resolutions tab of this web site.
It is even more important now that we strengthen our collaborations, as there are increasing numbers of our elected officials that seek to turn back the clock and have seniors live in poverty and be forced to make the choice between health care and eating.
In New York State there is currently an ongoing study to determine whether to establish an office of community living. Our joint concern is that we cannot move forward until we establish its necessity and whether this would best serve the people. To that end I wrote a letter to the committee on behalf of our 440,000 members saying “We are monitoring the process to insure that all communities, especially communities of color and low income seniors have been fully engaged in order that every stakeholder has a fair chance to weigh in on the impact of any change as well as be part of the process. NYSARA will continue to monitor the study to insure that senior services are maintained and that any proposal to consolidate agencies is to provide more efficient and better delivered services, and not used to reduce public sector employee union jobs.”
On the federal level there are forces that seek to deny health coverage (55x votes to repeal the affordable care act), destroy Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, raise drug prices and put corporate interests ahead of the needs of the people. They want to renege on the promise of this country and want to destroy all parts of the safety net to benefit a privileged few.
We face challenges that we MUST stand together and fight.
• Lies and rhetoric about Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid pitting groups against each other toward the end of ending these programs as we know them.
• Demonization and attacks on unions and voting rights to gain an advantage that has not been earned and is contrary to what this country has always stood for.
• Programs and Legislation that disadvantages Seniors such as the TPP and using funding for Senior programs to fund totally separate programs such as training for workers displaced by trade deals or to fund transportation.
Untrue Rhetoric such as “People should opt out of Social Security to save it.” Ben Carson or “Harvard and Dartmouth said that Social Security is going to go insolvent in 7-8 years.” Chris Christie or on Medicare “But we need to figure out a way to phase out this program and move to a new system that allows them to have something, because they’re not going to have anything.” Jeb Bush
Fact is that less than ½ of todays workers will be able to maintain their standard of living in retirement.
We need to once and for all deal with the issue that plagued us about the Medicare part B crisis for the 30% that were not held harmless when there was not COLA for Social Security and to permanently address the faux crisis that was created by the Republican caucus in the house when they created a rule that prevented the free transference of funds from the Social Security old age trust to the Social Security disability trust. An activity that had been done 11 times since Social Security was established. This faux crisis could have meant a 20% cut in income for those on SSD.
We need to challenge the lies that are being perpetuated about Social Security.
• Social Security is going broke. Young people will not see a penny
• Social Security spends more than it takes in.
• The Social Security trust fund’s $2.8 trillion is not real and is already spent
• Entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare cause the deficit
• Everyone is living longer and we need to raise the retirement age.
• You can do better investing on your own.
We must fight against the passage of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement in part because:
➢ It lengthens the amount of time that drug exclusivity is in effect therefore delaying the introduction of generic lower price drugs to the market place.
➢ It allows corporations to challenge the Medicaid 304B (discount to community health centers, public hospitals, Ryan White clinics that provide medicine to low income patients) because under TPP “prices are based on competitive market derived prices. It also opens to challenge the discounted drug prices under the ACA..
We need to maintain activism and to challenge falsehoods.
Lastly, a success story……
The federal budget deal negotiated in November.
1. Fixes the Medicare Part B premium crisis by “smoothing” the increase for the 30% not held harmless.
2. Fixes the Social Security Disability issue by allowing the transfer of funds.
3. Ends sequestration in 2016-17 restoring $33 billion our of $37 billion to domestic programs.
According to President Obama this is due in large part to the activism of Americans including NYSARA and the ARA.
We need to double down on that activism and we must do it together.
I look forward to continuing our work and to addressing the needs of our members.