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MEDICARE BILL SIGNING 'A SHAME' Response from Senator Harkin and Senator Grassley on the Prescription Drug Plan PHARMA, NOT SENIORS, DRUG BILL WINNERS AARP Shafts Seniors by supporting Sham Medicare Drug Bill Online Calculator
Details Prescription
Seniors Draft Grassroots Action Plan Social Security Benefits Rise Seniors Win Voice, Votes on DNC Committee Taxpayers Deserve Reimbursement for Medicare Ad Campaign
Report Says Medicare to Go Broke by 2019 Bush Administration Faulted for Medicare Trust Fund Shortfalls, 
Says Alliance for Retired Americans
They think the entire US Treasury is THEIR money Medicare Bill Triggers Multiple Investigations  NEW  05/26/04
An example of what happens when we elect democrats.
 NEW  05/26/04
Seniors shortchanged
 NEW  06/10/04
Confusion Marks Drug Card Debut

Gorge Kourpias
Alliance for Retired Americans
also a member of Siouxland Lodge 1426 IAMAW and retired International President IAMAW

Maria Cordone
IAM Community Services/Retirees

MEDICARE DRUG BILL COSTS SENIORS--A series of television ads by
the Alliance for Retired Americans urges viewers not to let Congress turn over Medicare to private insurers as a
Republican-dominated conference on Medicare prescription drug legislation is proposing. Meanwhile, a new study of the Medicare prescription drug bills under consideration by a House and Senate conference committee says as many as 13.4 million seniors and people with disabilities will be forced to pay more for their prescription drugs under the bills' provisions. According to "Paying More for Less" by the USAction Education Fund (USAEF), the prescription drug premiums, deductibles and co-payments in the Senate bill would cost $1,100 a year, more than 48 percent of seniors and people with disabilities (13.4 million people) currently pay. The proposed bills also would increase out-of-pocket costs for doctor visits and laboratory tests for 32.5 million of Medicare's 40 million beneficiaries. The USAEF report reaffirms the Congressional Budget Office's finding that the bills will encourage employers to drop their retiree drug benefits, leaving as many as 4.5 million without their current employer-provided drug coverage. In addition, on Oct. 22, the Republican-led conference committee released an outline of the final bill that not only imposes higher Medicare costs on beneficiaries and provides less prescription drug support for lower-income recipients but also requires privatization of Medicare services. A bipartisan group of 41 senators wrote President George W. Bush telling him, "a partisan conference report that jeopardizes Medicare and does not provide meaningful assistance to elderly and disabled should not and will not pass." For a copy of the report, visit . To send a message to your lawmakers, visit .

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Social Security Benefits Rise
A 2.1 percent hike in Social Security benefits raises the monthly payout to $922 for the average single retiree. The benefit for the average couple rises to $1,523. More than 47 million retirees, survivors and persons with disabilities will receive the annual cost-of-living increases, according to the Social Security Administration.

The bad news is that premiums for Medicare Part B, which pays for doctors’ services and other out-patient care increase by 13.5 percent next year to $60.60 a month.

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Seniors Draft Grassroots Action Plan

A rollicking delegation of more than 700 retirees adopted an ambitious political action plan to shield senior citizens, and all working families, from the anti-worker policies of the Bush administration and its compliant congressional cohorts.

Meeting in Las Vegas, delegates to the IAM Retirees Conference hammered out a detailed plan to make their voices heard—both at the ballot box and from City Hall to Capitol Hill. The delegates, including more than two dozen from Canada, participated in a series of instructive workshops focused on political organizing and lobbying techniques.

Delegates heard from a range of distinguished guests, including IP Tom Buffenbarger. “The skill, the experience and the wisdom you gained during your working lives are potent weapons in our unceasing struggle to win fairness for all,” he said. These economic wars must be won in the marble halls of Congress and Parliament, in the legislatures and town halls of North America.

“As legislative advocates working together towards our common goals, we can overcome the powerful interests of those who oppose us. We have the know-how to wage, and to win, these wars,” Buffenbarger said.

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PHARMA, NOT SENIORS, DRUG BILL WINNERS--A new study shows the pharmaceutical industry will earn a stunning "windfall profit" of $139 billion under the Medicare prescription drug legislation now in a House and Senate conference. The study, "61 Percent of Medicare's New Prescription Drug Subsidy Is Windfall Profit to Drug Makers," by the Health Reform Program at Boston University's School of Public Health, says the bill does not contain mechanisms to control prices and does not even allow Medicare to negotiate prices for drugs. "[T]hese unrestrained prices--given the remarkably low real cost of producing the added volumes of pills that Medicare patients need--will bestow enormous windfall profits on prescription drug makers," the report says. Visit to read

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MEDICARE BILL SIGNING 'A SHAME'--The signing of the recently passed Medicare prescription drug bill by President Bush Dec. 8 "brings a mark of shame on the federal government," AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said. "While the lobbyists and large corporations win today, many others are being left out in the cold," he said, including tens of millions of retirees who will be worse off than before. Several members of Congress, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), also denounced the bill at a Capitol Hill rally Dec. 8. A new study shows the Medicare prescription drug bill will fail to help half of Medicare recipients when it goes into effect in 2006, according to a new study by the nonprofit Economic Policy Institute. For more information, visit .

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Response from Senator Harkin and Senator Grassley
on the Prescription Drug Plan

Check out the responses I got from our two Senators. Then tell me who's working for Seniors and Working Men and Women of this great nation.

Senator Harkin's response.
Senator Grassley's response.

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Seniors Win Voice, Votes on DNC Committee
IAM seniors gained a valuable new resource this week when the Democratic National Committee (DNC) welcomed civil rights activist Dr. Eugene Callendar and Maria Cordone, IAM Director of Community Services/Retirees, as voting members of the DNC’s National Democratic Seniors Coordinating Council (NDSCC).

Callendar and Cordone were elected chair and vice chair respectively to the NDSCC and will officially represent the council as voting members of the DNC.

The mission of the NDSCC is to increase participation of seniors at all levels of the Democratic Party and to heighten the visibility of senior Americans as one of the Party’s core constituencies.

“We are going to recruit, organize and turn out the senior vote like never before,” said Cordone. “It is our job to ensure that seniors know the differences between Democrats and Republicans, and how destructive the GOP agenda is for seniors.”

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Online Calculator Details Prescription Costs
The Kaiser Family Foundation has developed an online Prescription Drug Benefit Calculator to help illustrate out-of-pocket spending for prescription drugs under leading Medicare proposals being considered in Congress. The calculator allows users to enter their total prescription drug costs and determine what they would pay under the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means/Energy and Commerce Committees' proposals. The Calculator can be found at:

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AARP Shafts Seniors by supporting Sham Medicare Bill

Sisters and Brothers,

For years, Democratic lawmakers have been working to make sure that seniors have access to prescription drugs and reasonable healthcare. Now, in an attempt to score political points, the Republican Congressional leadership is pushing through a bill that appears to offer a solution. Actually, the bill undermines the entire Medicare program, pushing people into the very HMOs which contribute heavily to Republican lawmakers and barring the government from negotiating for
lower drug prices.

Given the danger to seniors, one might expect that the millions-strong American Association of Retired People (AARP) to be on the case. But after huge contributions from pharmaceutical companies and HMOs, and pressure from Republican lawmakers, the AARP is selling out its membership and backing the bill.

In response, 85 members of Congress (so far) have canceled their AARP memberships, or announced that they will never join (if they're not yet old enough to be eligible). [1] Today, we urge you to do the same. If the AARP won't stand up for the elderly when it comes to health care, what good is it? You can reach the AARP at:

National hotline: 1-800-424-3410

If you're a member, tell them you're quitting.

If you're too young to be eligible, tell them you'll never join.

You also may want to let your Representative and Senators know that you're keeping the AARP accountable. You could also tell them that you expect them to demand real health care reform -- not this industry-backed bill.

You can reach your members of Congress at:

Tell Congress to Stop Phony Medicare Drug Plan

The AARP has endorsed a bill that would make two fundamental changes
in Medicare:

1. First, it would force people to make a stark choice: either pay sharply increased premiums to stay in traditional Medicare, where they can choose their doctor; or be forced out, into an HMO.

Newt Gingrich, the former House Republican leader, said in 1995 that he wanted to let Medicare to "wither on the vine." This change would lead to that result, with cost incentives driving people out. (Not coincidentally, AARP CEO William Novelli recently wrote the forward to Gingrich's book. [2])

2. Second, it offers a prescription drug benefit, but requires people who want this coverage to buy it from private insurance plans.

This part of the bill also bars the government from doing the one thing it could do to actually reduce the cost of these drugs --
negotiate for lower prices, using the size of the Medicare program as leverage. Drug prices are soaring now, and unless they're brought under control, they will eventually bankrupt Medicare.

AARP itself sells insurance and also sells prescription drugs, so the group stands to reap huge financial gains from this change.

The bill has been opposed by a host of liberal groups as well as by major conservative groups, including the Club for Growth, The Heritage Foundation, the American Conservative Union, The Cato Institute, and the National Taxpayers Union. It's also been assailed by virtually every one of the Democratic presidential candidates.

In endorsing this bill, the AARP has broken faith with its members. In a recent poll, 65% of AARP members said they're opposed to it. The group has also violated its own written principles. In July, CEO William Novelli wrote to Congress stating the requirements for AARP's support of a Medicare bill. Yet the bill AARP has just endorsed
fails to meet nine separate requirements stated in that letter.

We need to hold the AARP responsible for selling out its members. If the organization sees sufficient backlash from its members and prospective members, it could still change course and effect the outcome of this legislation. Please call your local AARP branch today.

November 20th, 2003


  85 Representatives wrote to Novelli, canceling their memberships:

  From the foreword by Novelli to Gingrich's new book, "Saving Lives
and Saving Dollars".
  See for a complete list of

Poll: a majority of AARP members oppose the Medicare bill:

AARP July letter on minimum acceptable standards

How AARP goes back on its word

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 NEW  02/09/03
Taxpayers Deserve Reimbursement For Medicare Ad Campaign
Alliance for Retired Americans Charge Ads
Nothing But Political Propaganda

The Alliance for Retired Americans today called on the Republican National Committee to reimburse American taxpayers the more than $12 million of public money used by the Bush administration to finance a media campaign that promotes the new Medicare prescription drug law, charging the advertisements are blatantly political and don't provide a public service. The print and broadcast campaign was launched by the White House in response to growing criticism about the politically volatile Medicare drug benefit.

"The president and Karl Rove know they created a prescription drug law that seniors simply don't accept," said Alliance Executive Director Ed Coyle, whose nationwide grassroots organization represents more than 3 million seniors and campaigned against passage of the Medicare bill, " so the White House decided to fight back using tax dollars to fund a partisan propaganda campaign."

"This misinformation campaign amounts to nothing more than an in-kind political contribution by the Department of Health and Human Services to the Committee to re-elect President Bush and should be paid for with campaign money and not with hard-earned taxpayer dollars. This campaign is a public disservice and shouldn't be construed as helping educate seniors.

"The Republican National Committee owes American taxpayers $12.6 million."

Coyle said fatal flaws in the new Medicare law, coupled with political repercussions associated with a growing senior backlash, pressured the Bush administration into refuting criticism of a law that's not even scheduled to go into effect until 2006. The money the administration used to finance the ad campaign and expensive media buys was supposed to be used to implement the new law," he added.

"This administration has an obsession with unfairly cutting taxes, but it doesn't hesitate to spend public money on political commercials masquerading as public service ads," Coyle said. "Seniors deserve more and they know it all too well."

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Report Says Medicare to Go Broke by 2019
By MARK SHERMAN and LEIGH STROPE, Associated Press Writers

WASHINGTON - Medicare will have to begin dipping into its trust fund this year to keep up with expenditures and will go broke by 2019 without changes in a program that is swelling because of rising health costs, trustees reported Tuesday.

Social Security's finances showed little change, and its projected insolvency date remained 2042.

The deteriorating financial picture for the health care program for older and disabled Americans is a result, in part, of the new Medicare prescription drug law that will swell costs by more than $500 billion over 10 years, according to the annual report by government trustees.

Provisions of the law that President Bush signed into law in December "raise serious doubt about the sustainability of Medicare under current financing arrangements," the trustees said.

The 2019 go-broke date for the Medicare trust fund, which is devoted primarily to paying beneficiaries' hospital bills, is seven years sooner than what the trustees projected last year.

The trustees' report is the first official estimates of the long-term costs of the new Medicare law in December. As they did last year, the trustees said that projected lower tax receipts devoted to the program and higher expenditures for inpatient hospital care also contributed to the growing financial problem.

White House spokesman Trent Duffy said the rising cost of health care - and not the prescription drug program - is causing Medicare costs to swell. "It's health care costs - over 70 percent," he said. "Not prescription drugs."

Government officials have been predicting for years that the retirement insurance and health care funds for the elderly - both financed through payroll taxes - will be pushed toward insolvency as more post-World War II baby boomers reach 65.

The report quickly became presidential campaign fodder.

Democratic candidate John Kerry blamed "George Bush's irresponsible tax breaks for the wealthy and his giveaway to the prescription drug companies" and said the system would be broke by the time people 50 or younger reach retirement.

"After inheriting a strong economy and record surpluses, this president had the chance to stay the course of fiscal responsibility and shore up both the Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds. Instead, he made a mockery of fiscal responsibility," Kerry said. "We need a real plan to preserve and protect Medicare and bring fiscal responsibility back to the White House. It is time for change and I will deliver it."

The Bush-Cheney campaign, meanwhile, criticized Kerry who - like many Democrats - voted against the prescription drug benefit, complaining that it favored pharmaceutical companies and HMOs. Kerry, the campaign said, "would bankrupt Medicare while denying seniors access to cost- and lifesaving prescription drugs and preventive care."

The trustees took the unusual step of estimating the shortfall for both Medicare and Social Security on an "infinite horizon," instead of limiting their long-term projections to 75 years. The new approach, which would put the combined shortfall at $72 trillion, takes into account "not only people who are participating today, but all future generations who will pay taxes and draw benefits," said a report co-authored last fall by Thomas Saving, a trustee who teaches economics at Texas A&M University.

Several analysts and Democratic congressional aides said the longer timeframe was meant to create a sense of crisis by Republicans who want to reduce the government's role in the programs in favor of private, individual investments.

Small differences in assumptions can produce major swings in projections, they said, pointing to the $139 billion difference over just 10 years in the estimated cost of the Medicare law between congressional budget analysts and Medicare's actuary.

The trustees' report is based on the estimates by Medicare actuary Richard Foster.

Republicans pressed for the overhaul of Medicare last year to give private insurers a much larger role in the program as a way, Bush and others said, to control long-term costs.

But the government's own projections are that private managed care plans will cost taxpayers more than traditional Medicare for the foreseeable future.

A big reason for an earlier insolvency date "will be a direct result of increased payments to private health plans," said Terri Shaw, an analyst with the liberal Center for American Progress.

Last year, Medicare's insolvency date was moved up to 2026 from 2030. The projected insolvency date for Social Security, on the other hand, was extended to 2042, one year later than what was forecast in 2002.

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Bush Administration Faulted for Medicare Trust Fund Shortfalls, 
Says Alliance for Retired Americans

WASHINGTON, March 24 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Following is a statement by Edward F. Coyle, executive director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, regarding Medicare Trustees' annual report on Medicare:

"Medicare's shortened lifespan is the direct result of the Bush administration's mismanagement of the program as well as failed economic policies. This president and the Republican Congress championed a fatally flawed Medicare law that has fueled Medicare's decline by heaping profits on HMO's and drug companies at the expense of America's elderly.

"It comes as no surprise that this administration believes the solution to beefing up the Trust Fund is to shift costs and risks to America's seniors, while extolling the virtues of "cost- containment" privatization reforms showcased in new Medicare law.

Changes to Medicare are necessary, but the real reform needed today is to change Bush administration policies of profits over people."


The Alliance for Retired Americans is a national organization that advocates for the rights and well being of more than 3 million retirees and their families.

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They think the entire US Treasury is THEIR money

This is great... let's give tax cuts to the wealthy, then raise gas prices and eat up half of our tax cut making the already filthy rich... richer.....

Then let's propose cutting Social Security and Medicare when all of us have paid our entire life so that we could collect.

Does anyone really think we should re-elect these people. They think the entire US Treasury is THEIR money...we need to let them know in the November elections that it is OUR MONEY they are messing with.


Snow: Need Action on Social Security, Medicare

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow on Wednesday again called for action on reforming Social Security and Medicare, a day after the Medicare system's trustees said it will go insolvent sooner than thought.

"The fundamental math of Social Security is escapable as the large baby boom generation reaches retirement age and the number of workers paying into the system declines significantly relative to the number of retirees," Snow said in prepared remarks to be delivered to the House Ways and Means Committee.

"While we have some time to fix the problem, inaction is not a responsible option," he added.

On Tuesday, Snow and the Medicare program's other public trustees reported that the hospital care trust fund for the medical program for the elderly is expected to be exhausted in 2019, seven years earlier than thought.

This year, for the first time since 1999, the program will also see spending outpace revenues collected from its dedicated payroll tax. The program will tap its interest earnings from special Treasury securities, essentially receiving about $7.5 billion from general government revenues.

Snow said Medicare's woes were not connected to the new prescription drug benefit Congress passed late last year.

"At the outset, it is important to note that the change in (hospital insurance's) financial condition was not caused in any way by the creation of the Medicare prescription drug program, which is separately financed," Snow said.

"The principal culprit here is the rising cost of health care, and we need to turn our attention to this underlying fundamental issue."

On Tuesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said the date of the Medicare fund's exhaustion had been hastened by about two years because of provisions on the drug benefit legislation dealing with health care reimbursement rates.

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Medicare Bill Triggers Multiple Investigations
In a move that could lead to embarrassing lawsuits for the Bush administration, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thomson is refusing a formal request to release documents regarding the price tag for the Medicare bill passed in December.

House Democrats on the Congressional Reform Committee are investigating the $140 billion difference between the $400 billion figure quoted during the debate leading up to the bill’s passing and the more accurate $540 billion cost estimate released shortly after the bill was signed into law. Many lawmakers say they agreed to vote for the bill based on assurances that its cost would not exceed $400 billion.

The Medicare bill, which was supposed to provide a federally subsidized prescription-drug benefit for senior citizens and a boost for the President’s re-election prospects, is rapidly becoming an election year albatross, complete with allegations of threats and bribes to get the legislation passed.

The Medicare scandal gathered steam in March after Richard S. Foster, the nation’s top Medicare actuary, claimed he was ordered by his boss to withhold accurate cost estimates from members of Congress. Lawmakers also objected to the bill’s floor vote, which lasted nearly three hours, instead of the usual 15 minutes. The “long count” led to an investigation by the House Ethics Committee over allegations by Rep. Nick Smith (R-MI), that “bribes and special deals were offered” to induce him to vote for the bill’s passage.

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Here is another example of what happens when we elect IL Democrats control the State Senate and Assembly as well.

Seniors and disabled persons offered statewide program to save on average 21% on prescription drugs.

Governor announces new Illinois Rx Buying Club promotional efforts during National Senior Citizens Month

Mike King, CR
IAM Midwest Territory

May 2, 2004

Governor announces new Illinois Rx Buying Club promotional efforts during National Senior Citizens Month
State partners with Jewel-Osco to make seniors aware of new discount program, launches public service announcement campaign

CHICAGO -Governor Rod R. Blagojevich announced today that during the month of May, National Senior Citizens Month, the state will run an aggressive campaign alerting seniors about the Illinois Rx Buying Club which helps people over the age of 65 and the disabled save money on their prescription medications.

"In Illinois, about one out of every three people over 65 has no prescription drug coverage whatsoever. They are paying the highest drug prices in the world out of pocket. We know that's a huge problem, and that's why we worked hard to put together a program that helps seniors get a discount on their medications so they can afford to follow their doctors' orders," said Blagojevich. "The Senior Rx Buying Club is already helping more than 64,000 Illinois seniors and disabled residents save on their prescription drugs. We want to make sure others who qualify know that help is available."

Jewel-Osco will offer a special incentive to seniors who sign up for the Rx Buying Club at one of its 280 Illinois locations during the month of May. New applicants will be mailed a $25 Osco gift card and a certificate for a copy of the Health Care Advisory Book (a $14.95 value), a reference book on medications and the immune system.

In addition, Jewel-Osco will promote the Rx Buying Club through in-store posters and circular advertisements during the month of May. 

"I want to thank Jewel-Osco for working with use to spread the word about the discount card program. We'll continue building partnerships like this to make the program a success," the Governor added.

Jewel-Osco joins the drug store chain Walgreens in helping the state raise awareness about its new discount card program. Through May 15, seniors who sign up for the program at Walgreens will receive a $25 Walgreens gift card. Both chains volunteered to become Level-One pharmacies in the new program, which means they will offer members of the buying club the deepest discounts available under the plan. They will also continue to make applications available even after the special offers expire.

The new Rx Buying Club is available to all Illinois residents age 65 and over and the disabled. Members pay a $25 annual administrative fee and in return receive a discount card they can use when purchasing any prescription medication at more than 50,000 participating pharmacies across the United States. Since its launch in January, the program has achieved average savings of 21 percent for its 64,500 members.

Today the state also launched a series of television and radio public service announcements promoting the Rx Buying Club. The announcements, which are being sent to stations across Illinois, contain testimonials from seniors who have taken advantage of the new program as well as basic information on how eligible seniors and disabled individuals can enroll.

For more information about Illinois' Rx Buying Club, or to obtain an application, visit a local Jewel-Osco or Walgreens pharmacy, call toll free 866-215-3463, (TYY 866-215-3479), or visit the official website at

NOTE FOR TELEVISION AND RADIO: IIS will uplink a satellite feed on Sunday, May 2, containing a new public service announcement, the poster that will be displayed in Jewel-Osco pharmacies and b-roll of the Governor talking to seniors about the new Rx Buying Club.

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Seniors shortchanged
Letter to the editor: Chicago Sun Times
Printed today - May 19, 2004

Seniors shortchanged

After all the promises and rhetoric from Washington, the new Medicare drug discount cards are here. After taking a hard look at the reality while tuning out the rhetoric, I have two words of advice from one senior citizen to another: Buyer beware!

Before buying one of these drug discount cards, there are some facts every senior should know. You can have only one federal discount card. If you buy one of these cards, you are locked in for a year and cannot make any changes. But the private companies selling the cards can change the drugs their card covers and the discounts you receive every week.

The amount of discount with these cards varies greatly. In fact, based on prices on Medicare's Web site, the medicine you need may be available for lower prices without the card. For example, a 30-day supply of Lipitor ranged from $67 to $80 with a federal card but cost only $63 from a U.S. Internet pharmacy or $35 from Canada.

President Bush and Congress could and should have done better for seniors. If Medicare was allowed to negotiate lower drug prices for seniors, we could buy that 30-day dosage of Lipitor for $41. That is the price the Veterans Administration negotiated for veterans.

Illinois has three drug relief programs for seniors that are better than the Medicare drug discount cards. Senior Care and Circuit are programs for lower-income seniors. The Illinois Rx Buying Club is for seniors of all income levels. Before you buy a federal drug card, call the Illinois Department on Aging at 800-252-8966 to see how Illinois' programs can help you.

The first phase of the new Medicare drug law has not delivered the help Bush and Congress promised seniors. Unless we change the law, it will just get worse in 2006 when the rest of the program starts.

Hal Gullett, president,
Illinois Alliance for Retired Americans 

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Confusion Marks Drug Card Debut

Mass confusion marked the debut of the Medicare drug cards as only 400,000 seniors chose to sign up, according to the Alliance for Retired Americans. They joined over 2 million beneficiaries who were automatically enrolled through their managed care plan.

While the Bush administration touted significant savings through the cards, reports show that double-digit jumps in drug prices have negated expected savings from the cards.

With Medicare endorsing 73 cards that offer different drugs and different discounts, seniors also had to deal with an overwhelming array of choices.

“Seniors know a sham when they see one,” said Alliance President George J. Kourpias. “These cards offer paltry savings, do nothing to rein in skyrocketing drug prices and are unnecessarily complex. Come November, America’s seniors will let the president and Congress know how they feel about this law.”

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of Siouxland Lodge 1426 IAMAW