January 09, 2016
January/February Message from NYS Alliance for Retired American’s President Barry A. Kaufmann
And the beat goes on…….The New York State Alliance for Retired Americans is in the house. Our organization has been in the forefront of many issues that are near and dear to our membership. From the work to defeat the TPP trade deal to our monitoring the process in considering the establishment of an office of community living and the fight for 15 and a full court press on paid family leave in New York. We are with the NYS Nurses Association (NYSNA) to insure that safe staffing in hospitals is the norm rather than the exception. We are educating our members to the myriad of bills that seek to protect and enhance Social Security benefits. We are beginning to distribute information that will enable our members to vote their interests in the upcoming 2016 elections. Our move to a 501c4 organization will allow us to increase our involvement in the elective process. We have strengthened the collaborations with our already existing allies and have actively worked to establish new connections. We are actively speaking out about drug price gouging where wealthy pharmaceutical companies have never had it so good yet continue to take advantage. They record profits while dodging taxes. In 2013, the U.S. spent nearly 40% more per person on prescriptions than Canada, the next most expensive industrialized nation. In 2014, the U.S. federal government paid $1 billion in government contracts to Pfizer who has $140 billion in untaxed profits stashed offshore. In 2015, Martin “Pharma Bro” Shkreli increased the cost of an HIV/AIDS drug by 4,000% – charging patients $750 per pill.
We are seeking to strengthen our organization through strengthening our existing chapters and redoubling efforts to establish new chapters. I have been fortunate enough to participate in strategic planning in the Long Island and New York City Chapters of NYSARA and have received a 2016 update of last years strategic plan in the Capital District. In all of these chapters the “State of the Chapter” is very strong. We have very strong and committed leadership in all our chapters and our Central New York Chapter has led the way in the fight against the TPP, the fight for 15 and for paid family leave. Our Western New York leadership has been spreading the word about NYSARA and the need to take activism to a new level in this very polarized climate.
We are actively promoting the defeat of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal for all the reasons stated on our web site www.newyorkstateara,org under Announcements. (Why NYSARA opposes the TPP trade deal before congress)
I would urge all of our members that live in Long Island, New York City or the Albany area to attend upcoming events that are sponsored by NYSARA and our partners on this issue.
JANUARY 12, 2016
LEO O’BRIEN FEDERAL BUILDING
“A New Year’s Resolution to defeat the TPP”
1 CLINTON SQUARE, ALBANY NEW YORK
JANUARY 21, 2016
JEWISH CENTER OF JACKSON HEIGHTS
3706 77TH ST., JACKSON HEIGHTS, NY 11372
JANUARY 28, 2016
SOCIAL HALL AT THE UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST CONGREGATION AT SHELTER ROCK
48 SHELTER ROCK RD., MANHASSET, NY 11030
NYSARA Executive Director John Costello and I attended and participated in a Press Conference on Family Leave Insurance on December 17. This is an issue that really has two parts. Part one is to turn the law passed during the Clinton years on family leave into 12 weeks of paid leave (Family Leave Insurance) This part is really a no brainer as it would require NO additional funding or bureaucracy by New York State and would require NO additional funding by employers. It would be funded by between $.25 and $1 per week surcharge from all employees. This money would go into the Temporary disability fund and would be sufficient to cover current benefits. Part two is a bit trickier. It enhances current substandard benefits that have not been indexed for inflation. This would require businesses to contribute to this fund in a higher amount than they currently contribute. We as seniors do NOT want our caregivers making financial sacrifices or going bankrupt caring for us.
The members of NYSARA have made great efforts, but the challenges at the local, state and national level are overwhelming. The challenges to Social Security that have been detailed and documented, especially by many of the candidates for President, are not to be dismissed. We MUST vote our interests and pledge to never vote for any Presidential candidate who wants to gut Social Security and steal the hard earned benefits of millions of deserving seniors who paid into it their entire lives. Social Security is NOT an entitlement. We need to fight for a way of determining the cost of living that specifically addresses seniors costs of living. This is to insure that COLA’s accurately measure the financial stresses we face (Consumer Price Index for the Elderly) We must fight against forces that would gut and voucherize Medicare and Medicaid and pass the costs on to seniors at their most vulnerable time. We need to to reduce the cost of Healthcare for all Americans, that would reduce the current stresses on the Medicare trust fund.
A prime example of just how dangerous things are is the recent legislation passed by the House and Senate to repeal the Affordable Care Act. In his veto of this legislation President Obama stated: “ The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the legislation would increase the number of uninsured Americans by 22 million after 2017. The Council of Economic Advisers estimates that this reduction in health care coverage could mean, each year, more than 900,000 fewer people getting all their needed care, more than 1.2 million additional people having trouble paying other bills due to higher medical costs, and potentially more than 10,000 additional deaths. This legislation would cost millions of hard-working middle-class families the security of affordable health coverage they deserve. Reliable health care coverage would no longer be a right for everyone: it would return to being a privilege for a few.”
And finally, Save the date for the founding convention of the newly established New York State Alliance for Retired Americans Educational Fund, our new 501c4 organization, on Thursday April 14, 2016. The location will be at the NYSUT Conference center at 800 Troy Schenectady Road in Latham, NY. Time TBD.
The New York State Alliance for Retired Americans Educational Fund is a 501c4 organization under IRS law. This will enable us to better educate our members on issues of importance to them and will enhance our ability to advocate with and for them. We also are hopeful that it will inspire and increased activism in our 440,000 members from across New York State.
On December 2, 2015 a meeting of the organizing committee to establish this 501c4 was held. At that meeting bylaws were approved, resolutions allowing for the filing of NYS incorporation papers, filing for an EIN number and a bank account for the New York State Alliance for Retired Americans Educational Fund were approved. Temporary officers were elected to serve until the Founding convention.
Temporary officers are:
Barry A. Kaufmann, President
Paul Schuh, Labor Vice President
Molly Krakowski, Community Vice President
Doris Welch, Secretary
Gary Lanahan, Treasurer
Joining us as our keynote speaker will be our newly elected Alliance for Retired Americans President, Robert Roach Jr. Election of new permanent officers and a program highlighting what is ahead for Seniors and what actions we must take will be offered as well as other guest speakers yet to be identified. Lunch will be served.
We need each other to fight against the forces that would seek to turn back the clock and subject 40% more seniors to poverty. Only through our joint efforts can we hope to succeed and we have no alternative. We MUST succeed.
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