Archive for June, 2012

We have a new name

Monday, June 25th, 2012
PSARA members vote on a new name and listen to Jay Inslee

Photo by PSARA member Garet Munger

PSARA members listen intently during the proceedings of our June general membership meeting. They voted, overwhelmingly, to change the name of our organization to the Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action (PSARA) – Uniting Across Generations for a Secure Future. They also heard from Jay Inslee, the Democratic candidate for governor and what his vision for Washington will be if he is elected governor. (June 21, 2012).

More about the name change:

On June 21st, the PSARA general membership voted to support a unanimous recommendation from the PSARA Executive Board to adopt a new name for our organization, and to approve Bylaws changes that express our changed circumstances.

The new name “Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action”. Note that our familiar brand, PSARA, is unchanged.

The Executive Board also recommended a new tag line which will follow the name – “Uniting Across Generations for a Secure Future”. (No membership action was required to adopt the tag line).

The change is necessitated by a directive from the national ARA stating that the name “Alliance for Retired Americans” and the associated logo are copyrighted. The name and logo may only be used by a state ARA affiliate. According to the national ARA, regional and local ARA organizations, such as PSARA, may not use these copyrighted materials.

After twelve years of affiliation, the ARA has determined that the Puget Sound Alliance for Retired Americans did not fit the organizational model mandated by their legal documents. They have offered to pay all costs associated with our name change.

Regional or local ARA organizations, such as PSARA, may not be affiliated directly with the national ARA. The new Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action will continue our affiliation with the Washington ARA.

A negotiating committee of PSARA officers tried to negotiate a resolution of the issue of our name with minimal disruption. There will be an adjustment period as we take the necessary legal steps to change our name and get use to a new name but not a new brand, i.e. PSARA.

In many ways the new name more accurately describes who we are. PSARA is an activist multi-generational organization uniting to create a secure future for all of us, seniors and the generations to follow.

Reclaiming the American Dream workshop

Monday, June 25th, 2012
PSARA members at the Reclaiming the American Dream workshop

Photo by PSARA member Garet Munger

PSARA members, led by Executive Board member Mark McDermott, gathered to discuss what we can learn from American history that will help us to counter the self-promoting policies of the 1% and win policies and values that lead us to a country that embodies economic and social justice for the 99%. (May 14, 2012).

PSARA members stand up for working Moms and all workers at Macy’s

Monday, June 25th, 2012
PSARA members stand up for Macy's workers May 2012

Photo by PSARA member Garet Munger

PSARA members stand up for working Moms and all workers at Macy’s (Tuesday May 8, 2012). UFCW 21 is in negotiations with this very successful retailer and is working to achieve wages and working conditions that will support families as macy workers struggle to balance work with family responsibilities.

May Day march for Immigrant and Worker Rights

Monday, June 25th, 2012
PSARA members march through downtown Seattle for Immigrant and Worker rights.

Photo by PSARA member Garet Munger

Carrying the PSARA banner on the May Day march, we got to speak with many people as we walked from Judkins field in the central area of Seattle through the streets of downtown Seattle.

PSARA members waiting to begin the May Day march 2012.

Photo by PSARA member Garet Munger

PSARA members waiting in the rain for the march for Immigrant and Worker Rights to begin on May Day 2012.

PSARA members stand in solidarity with postal workers

Friday, June 22nd, 2012
PSARA members support U.S. postal workers

Photo by PSARA member Garet Munger

PSARA members stand in solidarity with postal workers on Thursday April 19, 2012 as we call for no cuts to the U.S. Postal Service. Our members rely on the delivery of mail to our homes and we must not allow the privatizers to take over our postal system.

Will’s birthday

Monday, June 18th, 2012
Will Parry, former PSARA President and current Editor of The Retiree Advocate

Photo by PSARA member Garet Munger

The PSARA Executive Board took the time to celebrate the 92nd birthday on Thursday April 19, 2012 of our wonderful Editor & President Emeritus, Will Parry.

Kucinich at the Highline Social Security forum

Monday, June 18th, 2012

Rep. Dennis Kucinich spoke at a Social Security forum

Photo by Randall Smith

Rep. Dennis Kucinich speaking passionately at the Highline Community College Social Security forum on Thursday April 12, 2012 calling for the protection and strengthening of Social Security and for the elimination of the income cap now enjoyed by high income earners.

Ryan’s Medicare: Poison for seniors

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

By Will Parry

In the May issue of The Retiree Advocate, PSARA President Robby Stern summarized the many ugly specifics of Paul Ryan’s proposed budget for 2013 – a budget endorsed by Mitt Romney.

In this article, we single out an aspect of that budget of critical importance to today’s seniors – and tomorrow’s.  Our focus is on Medicare.  We’ll spell out exactly how the Ryan budget would undermine Medicare’s protections, callously shifting health care costs to the older men and women who rely on it.

The beneficiaries of Ryan’s scheme?  The big health insurance companies, the pharmaceutical giants, the medical device makers – in short, the powerful medical-industrial complex.

Ryan has now shelved his proposal of last year for the outright privatization of Medicare.   He would still offer seniors a voucher, capped at a harshly inadequate rate, for use with a private insurer.  But he would leave Medicare in place as an option that seniors could choose.

This would enable health insurance companies to cherry-pick younger and healthier seniors off Medicare into their appealingly-structured private plans (subsidized by the taxpayers).  The sicker seniors would then be marooned in an ever more costly Medicare program.

As George Zornick wrote in The Nation, “This is ironically perhaps a better deal for the health insurance industry than total privatization.  They don’t have to deal with the expensive, unhealthy elderly folks.”

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that, under the Ryan scheme, seniors’ annual health care costs would be $1,200 greater by 2030, and $5,900 greater by 2050.

But that’s not all.  The Ryan plan would raise the age of eligibility for Medicare coverage by two months per year, beginning in 2023 and continuing until reaching age 67 in 2034.

This two-year delay in eligibility isn’t mentioned anywhere in Ryan[s 99-page budget document.  You have to go to the CBO report on the budget to find it.

During the two years from age 65 to age 67, seniors, being not yet eligible for Medicare, would confront the higher out-of-pocket health care premiums, deductibles, co-pays and coverage limitations typical of the private insurance market, chiseling away at their Social Security checks.

“The Republican Party intends to raise the Medicare age for people as they approach the costliest years for receiving health insurance, and they’re keeping it a secret from the public,” Zornick wrote.

Moreover, under the Ryan plan the private insurance industry, and not the federal government, would determine the level of expenditures for senior health care. Here’s how it would work.

All private insurance plans would participate in an annual competitive bidding process.  The second lowest bid would establish what the  government would pay for health insurance.

But private insurance rates have been climbing at three and four times the rate of today’s Medicare.

The insurance industry has shown no ability to restrain cuts – and has no motive to do so. With budgetary control over this major government program in the hands of the very insurance companies that profit from it,   Medicare as we have known it would be history.

City weighs support for ‘Caring’ campaign

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

By Robby Stern

Wednesday, June 13 at 1:30 p.m., PSARA members are asked to attend a meeting of the Seattle City Council Housing, Human Services, Health & Culture Committee  at Seattle City Hall. The Committee will be considering a resolution that commits the City of Seattle’s to support the national Caring Across Generations campaign.

The resolution, if passed by the Seattle City Council, directs the City to bring the Caring Across Generations campaign to the National League of Cities for support. The resolution also directs the Seattle City lobbyists at the state and federal levels to advocate for legislation that advances the Caring Across Generations campaign.

If the resolution passes out of the Committee with no dissenting votes on June 13, it will be brought before the entire City Council at 2 p.m. on Monday, June 18.  We will also ask PSARA members to attend the full City Council meeting where we will present more than 3000 post cards from Seattle residents (including many PSARA members) supporting the Caring Across Generations campaign.

There have been important developments for the campaign at the national level.  Very recently, Senators Tom Harkin and Jay Rockefeller introduced Senate Resolution 453. (S.R. 453) The introduction to the Resolution states

“Expressing the sense of the Senate that supporting seniors and individuals with disabilities is an important responsibility of the United States, and that a comprehensive approach to expanding and supporting a strong home care workforce and making long-term services and supports affordable and accessible in communities is necessary to uphold the right of seniors and individuals with disabilities in the United States to a dignified quality of life.”

We will be asking Senators Murray and Cantwell to sign onto the S.R. 453 to demonstrate their support for the Caring Across Generations campaign.

The introduction of  S.R. 453 is the first step in the national campaign to pass legislation that  will:

  1.  Create jobs necessary to meet the growing demand for direct care;
  2. Transform the quality of current direct care jobs – to include a living wage, access to health insurance and other benefits…
  3. Create a career path and training programs that are linguistically and culturally relevant to improve quality of care and safety for care workers.
  4. Provide a path to legal status and citizenship for undocumented care workers and their families that is tied to participation in training and certification programs; and
  5. Support individuals and families who are hiring direct care workers by increasing access to Medicaid/Medicare, adding long term care as a Medicare benefit, creating a tax credit, and providing training and assistance on hiring and retaining direct care workers. The campaign also plans to support individuals and families who are providing unpaid kin care, through Social Security care-giving credits, paid family leave, and childcare subsidies.

PSARA has joined with Casa Latina, Washington Community Action Network and SEIU 775NW on the steering committee of the Caring Across Generations campaign in Washington.

Passage of the resolution by the Seattle City Council would represent the first such action by any city in the U.S.  Help make history and start us on a path of getting ahead of the impending long term care crisis resulting from the aging of the baby boomer generation.

Fun, delicious food, and Big Decisions: It’s the June 21 summer Membership Meeting!

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

Thursday, June 21, from 12:30 –3 p.m., at the Greenwood Community Senior Center, PSARA will hold our annual summer membership meeting and potluck. The opportunity to socialize with other PSARA members, to hear an important speaker talk about the future of our state, and to help shape the future of PSARA are all bundled into one afternoon.

Our featured speaker, gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee, will leave time for Q & A, offering a rare opportunity to question him about his vision for Washington in a more intimate setting. The race for governor promises to be hard fought and close.

The choice between the candidates is stark. Jay Inslee supported the Affordable Care Act (ACA). His opponent, Attorney General Rob McKenna, joined the lawsuit to overturn the ACA. If successful, the lawsuit could eliminate many of the improvements that were made to Medicare along with eliminating such reforms as barring exclusions for preexisting conditions, significant expansion of Medicaid, and coverage for kids under 26 through their parents’ healthcare.

Also at the meeting, you will learn about significant organizational changes PSARA will experience in the next several months. After twelve years of affiliation, the national ARA has determined that PSARA does not fit with their organizational model. After explaining what has occurred and what we need to do, the Executive Board will propose a new name for PSARA as well as several Bylaw changes.

The potluck, which displays the skill and creativity of our members, is always delicious and our membership is fun, lively and interesting! Please RSVP to adminvp@ psara.org or call the office (206) 448-9646. If no one answers, please leave a message telling us what you will be bringing for the potluck.