Posts Tagged ‘Medicaid’

Seattle Says: “No Cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid or Service Delivery”

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

By Steve Kofahl

On December 5, at the entrance to the building that houses the Social Security Administration Regional Office (SSA RO), nearly 100 people gathered to send our message to Congress. AFGE Local 3937 organized the one-hour rally, one of about 80 held by the Union at SSA offices throughout the country.

Labor, community leaders and activists joined the assembled crowd. What was particularly impressive and inspiring was the involvement by the Asian/Pacific Islander Community. Gary Tang, Director of the Aging and Adult Services Program at the Asian Counseling and Referral Service (ACRS), brought 15 immigrant seniors from the Rainier Valley. Sharyne Shiu-Thornton, Deputy Director of the InterIm Community Development Association, escorted 23 elders who walked from the International District. It was very difficult for them to walk, but that does not compare to the hardship that service barriers have created for them.

Diane Narasaki, ACRS Executive Director and Chair of the Asian Pacific Islander Coalition-King County; Doug Chin of the Organization of Chinese Americans-Seattle; and PSARA Board Member Frank Irigon were among the other community leaders who joined us. Cantonese and Mandarin interpretation of speakers’ remarks ensured that all could fully participate.

Speakers including PSARA President and Social Security Works Washington Chair Robby Stern, Sharyne Shiu-Thornton, and Steve Kofahl insisted that earned benefits be protected during the fiscal negotiations, and that SSA service be restored in our communities.

It was fitting that we were in front of the Regional Office of the Social Security Administration. The Regional Commissioner, Stanley Friendship, recently made the decision to close two of our accessible community offices – one in Belltown and the other in the International District – and to relocate the staff to the fortress that is the Jackson Federal Building. There, visitors must show current government picture identification and are subjected to magnetometers, and x-rays of their belongings. For those who speak little or no English, or who can’t afford to pay for expensive parking (since there is none on site for visitors, even the handicapped), the face-to-face service that is often preferred and needed is difficult or inaccessible.

Comments by Seattle Community Law Center Executive Director Alex Doolittle, PSARA Board Member Chuck Richards, and Asian Counseling and Referral Service Executive Director, Diane Narasaki, reinforced the message of the day – No Cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid or Service Delivery- just before the event ended at noon.

The fight will continue! PSARA members are urged to call their elected representatives as the 2013 Congressional session commences at 1-888-659-9401. Tell them – No cuts to earned Social Security or Medicare benefits, or Medicaid! No more service cuts!

‘Lame duck’ with a dangerous bite

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

By Will Parry

Immediately after Election Day, a mighty alliance of labor and community organizations will launch a campaign to block any congressional deficit-reduction deal that damages Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid.

The allied groups are deeply concerned over the willingness of leading Democrats, including President Obama, to enter budget talks prepared to yield ground on the three vital programs to get a bipartisan deal.

The lame duck session, between Election Day and the installation of the new Congress, looms as the arena for the battle between the deficit hawks and the defenders of critical social programs.

Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action will be vigorously supportive of the campaign.

“People, groups, organizations and networks are working very hard to get Obama and the Democrats elected, and yet we are worried that it is possible that we could be betrayed almost immediately,” said Roger Hickey, co-director of the Campaign for America’s Future.

During talks with House Speaker John Boehner in 2011, White House negotiators agreed to cut at least $250 billion from Medicare over the next ten years, and an additional $800 billion over the following decade, and to water down the formula for determining Social Security cost-of-living adjustments.

“We don’t want Obama putting on the table what he proposed to Boehner,” Hickey said.

The talks within the so-called bipartisan “Super Committee” also raised red flags.
Before the talks collapsed, Democratic senators on the committee proposed hundreds of billions of dollars in cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits, as well as Medicaid, while Republicans on the committee proposed even bigger cuts.

On the initiative of Senator Bernie Sanders (Independent, Vermont), 29 senators, including Washington State’s Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, have signed a “Dear Colleague” letter to other senators, urging them to hold the line on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Sanders, who chairs the Senate Social Security Caucus, has been the foremost member of that chamber in vigorous defense of the three basic programs.

The AFL-CIO, the Service Employees International Union, the Strengthen Social Securities coalition and dozens of other groups are expected to be active in the campaign to prevent the deficit from becoming the pretext for program cuts.

AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka declared that labor will “oppose any cuts to Social Security or Medicare benefits, or to the federal contribution to Medicaid.

“We call on politicians of both parties to stand firm and demand that Wall Street and the wealthy finally pay their fair share – given the extraordinary increases in corporate profits and income inequality in recent years,” Trumka said.

The AFL-CIO will stage a series of coordinated events around the country on November 8, to pressure lawmakers not to sign onto any deficit-reduction deal that raises the Medicare eligibility age or changes the Social Security cost-of-living formula.

In a related development, the Institute for America’s Future, after Election Day, will release a letter signed by 350 economists warning that austerity measures could derail the economic recovery.