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Friday Alerts

News: Friday Alerts

Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert

Health Experts: Sequester and Other Budget Cuts Left us Vulnerable to Ebola

10/17/2014 - Health experts are saying that the budget cuts, including sequestration, resulting from fiscal conservatives’ goal of cutting government at all costs, has greatly exacerbated the Ebola crisis in Africa and left the U.S. vulnerable. Dr. Francis Collins, the head of the National Institutes of Health, said that a decade of stagnant spending has “slowed down” research on all items, including vaccinations for infectious diseases. As a result, he said, the international community has been left playing catch-up on a potentially avoidable humanitarian catastrophe. Several Democratic lawmakers have introduced legislation that would increase NIH funds to $46.2 billion in 2021. But there is no indication that such a bill will move forward any time soon. 

Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert

Astronomical Prices of Some Cancer Drugs Hit Vulnerable Patients Hard

10/10/2014 - 60 Minutes reported last Sunday on the high price of cancer drugs in the U.S. Lesley Stahl’s piece shed light on the fact that Medicare has to pay the price determined by the drug companies, since under current law, Medicare is prohibited from negotiating the prices. The report noted that some cancer patients have gone into bankruptcy in an effort to save their lives. Dr. Leonard Saltz, chief of gastrointestinal oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering, noted that a patient could easily be paying $250,000 for two drugs, “just to get started.”

Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert

Thousands of Alliance Members Join Tele-Town Hall Calls with Candidates

10/03/2014 - More than 6,000 Alliance members dialed in Monday night on a tele-town hall conference call with Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC), with several of the activists asking Sen. Hagan questions. Seniors advocate Jon “Bowzer” Bauman of the musical group Sha Na Na and North Carolina AFL-CIO President James Andrews also spoke on behalf of Sen. Hagan during the call. “I will vote against turning Medicare into a voucher program every day of the week, if that’s what it takes,” Sen. Hagan said.

Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert

Seniors Increasingly Struggle to Pay Back Educational Loans

09/12/2014 - Watsonville, California resident Rosemary Anderson testified in Washington on Wednesday before the Senate Aging Committee’s hearing on older Americans and student loan debt. “Some may think of student loan debt as just a young person's problem," said Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), chairman of the committee. “Well, as it turns out, that's increasingly not the case.” Ms. Anderson could be 81 by the time she pays off her student loans. After struggling with divorce, health problems and an underwater home mortgage, the 57-year-old anticipates there could come a day when her Social Security benefits will be docked to make the payments.

Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert

GOP Calls for Repeal of Affordable Care Act Are Fading Fast

06/06/2014 - In a sign that the harshest opposition to the Affordable Care Act may be softening, GOP candidates across the country are dropping calls to repeal the health care reform law and are instead spending this year’s election season talking about trying to “fix” it. Republican leaders in Washington who are still calling for repeal have yet to release their own comprehensive health reform proposal, and several Republican candidates have drawn criticism for failing to specify which portions of the Affordable Care Act they would seek to modify.

Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert

House Budget Committee Chair Ryan Misrepresents Economists in Poverty Report

03/07/2014 - The House Budget Committee released a report, The War on Poverty: Fifty Years Later, on Monday, and the findings left several economists and social scientists bemused and angry, according to The Fiscal Times. Several experts who read it said that Committee Chair Paul Ryan(R-WI) either misunderstood or misrepresented their research. One of the study’s authors, Jane Waldfogel, a professor at Columbia University and a visiting scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation, said that she was surprised when she read the paper, “because it seemed to arbitrarily chop off data from two of the most successful years of the war on poverty.” Barbara Wolfe, a professor at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, objected to Ryan’s use of two of her studies: Ryan’s paper erroneously claimed that one of Wolfe’s studies found that only a minority of families alter their employment decisions in response to Medicaid’s design. For analysis and a link to the report itself, go to http://tinyurl.com/o23ysld.

Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert

President Obama Takes the Chained CPI out of his Fiscal 2015 Budget

02/21/2014 - In a great victory for the Alliance, White House staff has announced that President Obama’s Fiscal 2015 budget will not include a switch to the chained CPI formula that would limit cost-of-living increases in Social Security and other programs. Alliance members who had worked diligently for months in the hope that the change would not be implemented - and that earned benefits would not be cut – celebrated the news jubilantly. Especially relieved and excited were the thousands of Alliance members who had joined hands at dozens of “Human Chain” events held nationally last July (http://tinyurl.com/kocng72).

Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert

President Stays Away from Cuts to Key Programs in State of the Union Speech

01/31/2014 - President Obama’s State of the Union address avoided mention of some policies that would prove damaging to retirees, such as the chained CPI cut to earned Social Security benefits or other cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. “Now, we must work to increase Social Security benefits,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance. Mr. Fiesta added, “We applaud the President’s efforts to attack income inequality. An initiative to raise the minimum wage, and a renewed effort to extend the unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed, are two major steps in the right direction.” 

Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert

Supreme Court Hears Landmark Union Case Involving Home Health Care Workers

01/24/2014 - This week, U.S. Supreme Court heard Harris vs. Quinn, a case concerning in-home care providers who work with Medicaid patients, and their right to unionize. In response to high turnover rates and low wages amongst home care providers, 20,000 individuals in Illinois voted to join the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), securing higher union wages in negotiations with the state. In response, the anti-union group the National Right to Work Foundation brought suit against SEIU and Governor Pat Quinn (D). At issue are two questions: whether states may recognize a union to represent health care workers who care for disabled adults in their homes instead of in state institutions; and whether non-union members must pay for negotiating a contract they benefit from.

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