Alliance for Retired Americans Weekly Alert, Friday, June 22, 2012

Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–June 22, 2012.

‘Name Our Campaign’ – Alliance Summer of Action

Thousands of Alliance members, seniors and allies across the country will mobilize this July 30th, on the 47th anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid, to warn against drastic cuts discussed in Congress – like the Paul Ryan budget plan, which would threaten the retirement security of future generations. Watch for new reports and materials. In August, the anniversary of Social Security will trigger more events and actions. Please think of a tagline to “Name Our Campaign” for the summer activities! Last summer’s slogan was Senior Summer: Protecting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. The campaign kicks off in early July; you can be the one to name this year’s! Go to and enter by this Sunday. If your slogan is chosen, you will receive a tote bag and tee shirt, as well as a mention in a future Friday Alert, and your slogan will be used in materials throughout the summer!

Evidence of Affordable Care Act Success Comes as Supreme Court Decision Nears

Health insurance companies are due to pay out $1.1 billion in rebates to employers and individuals this summer, under a new industry regulation imposed by President Obama’s health care law, the administration said on Thursday. However, whether the rebates actually reach those recipients depends on if the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in a ruling expected by the end of next week, experts said.

Yesterday, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that 12.8 million Americans will benefit from $1.1 billion in rebates from insurance companies this summer, due to the Affordable Care Act’s “80/20 rule.”  These rebates will be an average of $151 for each family covered by a policy. The health care law generally requires insurance companies to spend at least 80% of consumers’ premium dollars on medical care and quality improvement. Insurers can spend the remaining 20% on administrative costs, such as salaries, sales, and advertising. “The Affordable Care Act is projected to reduce the federal budget deficit by about $1.4 trillion over the next twenty years,” said Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance. “It slows the persistent rise in health care costs by requiring efficiency and holding health care providers and insurance companies accountable.”

The Obama administration is planning to move forward with the major parts of the Affordable Care Act even if the requirement that nearly every U.S. resident have health insurance is declared unconstitutional.

AFL-CIO Launches Unprecedented Campaign to Protect Voter Rights

AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker held a press conference last week laying out a plan for labor, with partners including the NAACP, the National Council of La Raza and the Generational Alliance by her side, to respond to increasing attacks on voting rights coming from Republican legislatures throughout the country. Legislators in 34 states have introduced controversial and discriminatory voter identification laws that change the rules for voter eligibility. “These laws are designed to intentionally disenfranchise minority and low income voters by raising identification requirements,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. “Low income and minority voters are the groups that have the greatest difficulty obtaining sufficient forms of identification, and these new voter ID laws impede their ability to cast their votes in a fair and intimidation-free manner,” he continued.

The AFL-CIO has pledged, along with its partners, to tackle this issue by registering voters, helping registered voters obtain the necessary identification to be able to vote, and educating voters whose right to vote are infringed upon by these laws. The website and the voter hotline, 1-866-OUR-VOTE will be made available to voters to provide information on their state’s voting laws and how to meet the voting requirements.

In Wisconsin, according to the blog (, 95-year-old Florence Hessing of Bayfield said that she’d voted in every election without any problems until that state’s voter ID requirement was enacted. However, her driver’s license expired when she stopped driving at the age of 90, and because she was likely born via midwife, she didn’t have a birth certificate required to get a new photo ID. Lawyers were eventually able to find an exemption for Hessing that will allow her to vote, but approximately 300,000 Wisconsin adults lack photo ID. 

60 Plus Association Distorts the Truth Again

The conservative 60 Plus Association has made a $2.1 million ad buy in Ohio and Florida targeting Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown and Florida Senator Bill Nelson.  60 Plus is attacking the senators because of their votes in support of the Affordable Care Act, in addition to the economic stimulus passed during the recession.  The group’s ads warn that that under the law, “unaccountable bureaucrats” will be able to “ration care.”

“The 60 Plus Association has crossed the line with undeserved attacks on these two U.S. Senators,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance.  “Senator Nelson and Senator Brown both cast their votes on the side of seniors to drive down medical costs and to pull this country out of the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression.  The last thing we need at this time is $2.1 million dollars in lies to be flooding our airwaves.”

In all, about $235 million has been spent on ads attacking the law since its passage in March 2010, according to a recent survey by Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group it, driving up public disapproval. Only $69 million has been spent on advertising supporting it.

Lee Saunders is elected to be President of AFSCME

Lee Saunders was elected President of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees on Thursday. He had been the union’s Secretary-Treasurer and succeeds Gerald McEntee, who had been President for 31 years. “Lee Saunders has been a great friend and strong supporter of the Alliance,” said Mr. Coyle. “We congratulate him and look forward to working together during the 2012 election season and beyond. We also extend our congratulations to Laura Reyes, who was elected to be the new Secretary-Treasurer.”