06 August 2008

Alliance for Retired Americans takes our issues to Democratic Platform Committee!


The following statement will be issued today by Edward Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, at the Democratic National Committee National Platform Hearing in Cleveland, Ohio. The National Platform Committee outlines the positions of the Democratic Party, and will set the Democratic agenda and priorities for 2008.

The full, written statement to be presented to the National Platform Committee is appended.

“My name is Edward F. Coyle, and I am the Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, a 3.5 million-member grassroots advocacy organization uniting retired workers and community-based groups to fight for social and economic justice. I am also the current Chair of the Leadership Council on Aging Organizations, a coalition of 56 national not-for-profit organizations. “I will provide a longer written testimony for the record, and tomorrow you will hear from Alliance member Bruce Bostick of Ohio, who will tell you first-hand what it is like to be a retiree in today’s economy.

“This hearing coincides with the anniversaries of two landmark moments in American history, the enactment of Medicare and Social Security.

“Forty-three years ago this week, President Lyndon Johnson signed Medicare into law, paving the way for quality, affordable health care for millions of retirees.

“On August 14, we will celebrate the 73rd anniversary of Social Security, a lasting legacy of Franklin Roosevelt and one of America’s greatest social and anti-poverty programs.

“Today, older Americans are at a crossroads. While we look back with pride at these two historic achievements, retirees all across the country are struggling with the skyrocketing costs of health care, prescription drugs, gas, groceries, and home heating costs. Older Americans on fixed incomes are bearing the heaviest brunt of our nation’s failed economy.

“Many seniors worry that they are the last generation that will ever be able to retire after a lifetime of work. A nationwide poll of seniors taken for the Alliance last year found that only 12 percent believed their children would enjoy a life as good as theirs. Clearly, it is time for a change.

“In the growing economic uncertainty of retirement, we urge the Platform Committee to call for greater federal oversight of private pension plans and strongly affirm a commitment to Social Security.

“This includes rejecting the misguided calls by President Bush and Senator McCain to privatize Social Security.

“Throwing Social Security funds on the roulette wheel of the stock market is a gamble America cannot afford to take.

“Retirees were greatly offended to hear Senator John McCain recently comment that Social Security is “a disgrace.”

“Forty two million Americans receive Social Security benefits – these are our nation’s elderly, our widows and widowers, and our young children who have seen a parent die. This is not a disgrace.

“The Alliance for Retired Americans is deeply concerned about the future of Medicare, as this program has become increasingly privatized.

“The next Administration should eliminate the taxpayer overpayments to insurance companies who now operate private Medicare Advantage plans. We call for the repeal of a major “demonstration” project that will expand Medicare privatization in 2010. “Americans pay the highest prescription drug prices in the world - with seniors bearing the greatest burden by far. The 2003 Medicare prescription drug law, which the Alliance strongly opposed, has not offered comprehensive coverage to millions of seniors who pay more and get less while drug and insurance companies make record profits.

“It is time to the so-called “doughnut hole” in the 2003 law, in which millions of seniors must pay full price for their medications while continuing to pay their monthly premiums.

“We urge the Platform Committee to endorse legislation which would lower drug prices by mandating Medicare negotiate volume discounts from drug manufacturers.

“As America ages, the need for affordable and accessible long-term care has become a crisis.

“Instead of our current fractured system, we call for a social insurance approach that provides a number of services, home and community based whenever possible, based upon medical need not financial resources.

“The record high prices of gasoline and home heating costs have been devastating for senior citizens. They struggle to afford a trip to the doctor’s office, a supermarket, or to see their children and grandchildren.

“Critical programs such as Meals on Wheels have been cut back because of high fuel costs. We urge the Platform Committee to include strong measures against price gouging, as well as fully fund the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), providing home heating aid for low-income Americans.

“By charting a bold future that builds a more secure future for America that supports Social Security and Medicare, the Platform Committee can stand up a nation of retirees, and the generations that will soon follow them.

“Thank you.”

The Alliance for Retired Americans is a national organization that advocates for the rights and well being of over 3.5 million retirees and their families. There is a link to the Alliance in the Important Links on this page.

No comments: