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From the category archives: Max Richtman

Same-Sex Marriage Ruling Will End Social Security Discrimination for Families Nationwide

Today’s historic Supreme Court ruling touches the lives of millions of Americans and their families in many ways.  It ends the discriminatory patchwork of laws that has given some same-sex partners legal rights that were denied to their neighbors in other states.  It will also impact access to federal benefits like Social Security.  For those Americans who rely on Social Security for retirement, disability, spousal and survivor benefits this ruling finally clears the way for the universal and fair distribution of benefits to all who have earned them.

The basic tenet of Social Security is that if you contribute to the system throughout your working life, you and your family will receive those earned benefits in retirement, death or disability. Unfortunately for many same-sex couples and their families that important principle has been ignored as some states refused to recognize the marriages of gay and lesbian couples.  Today’s Supreme Court decision finally rights that wrong and clears the way for same-sex couples to access the hard-earned spousal and survivor benefits they’ve paid for just like every other American.

The National Committee has led the way in the fight to end this denial of Social Security benefits to deserving spouses. We’re proud of the role we have played with the Social Security Administration and others as part of our “Know Your Rights” project in helping same-sex couples exercise their legal right to benefits as their marriages were recognized in various states.  We now urge the Social Security Administration to move quickly to ensure all Americans nationwide can access the spousal benefits they have earned.”...Max Richtman, NCPSSM President/CEO

Obamacare Court Ruling Is Good News for Medicare Too

You could literally hear the collective sigh of relief today as millions of Americans whose healthcare was in jeopardy found out today they can keep their coverage through Obamacare.  Today’s Supreme Court decision upholding federal exchange subsidies is also good news for millions of seniors in Medicare who stand to lose billions in new benefits if healthcare reform is dismantled. 

As we have said for years now, seniors in Medicare need the Affordable Care Act.  Today’s Supreme Court ruling helps preserve this vital reform.

"Today’s Supreme Court decision impacts so many more Americans than just those in federal health exchanges created by Obamacare.  Thankfully, the Court’s ruling today preserves the many benefits and savings that Americans have received through the Affordable Care Act and avoids the damage that could have been done to our entire American health care system.

Seniors in Medicare have a stake in this debate as they will save, on average, about $5,000 over the next 10 years due to lower drug costs, preventive services with no out-of-pocket cost and reductions in the growth of health spending.  Since passage of Obamacare, more than 8.2 million people with Medicare saved over $11.5 billion on prescription drugs.  These are real people who will face real threats to their health security if the quest to dismantle Obamacare is ever successful.  No doubt the enemies of health care reform will continue their zealous mission to roll back Obamacare’s successes but today we have reason to celebrate. Tomorrow we’ll resume our fight to ensure seniors continue to benefit from the enormous savings Obamacare provides them and their families.”...Max Richtman, NCPSSM President/CEO

Lessons from Today’s Trade Drama: Hands Off Medicare

With more drama and theatrics than your average reality TV show the House today rejected legislation that would cut $950 million from Medicare to pay for a trade provision.  The majority of Democrats correctly opposed the legislation, in spite of the President’s heavy lobbying for their support:

Obama spent roughly 45 minutes with Democratic lawmakers, taking no questions but telling his party to “vote your values,” according to a source in the room.

But Democratic lawmakers rebuffed him hours later, voting overwhelmingly to scuttle the trade package that was a centerpiece of the president’s second-term agenda. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who had remained silent for weeks on the trade issue, went to the House floor shortly before the vote to speak against the free trade deal.

“Whatever the deal is with other countries,” she said, “we want a better deal for America’s workers.”

 The House could re-vote on TAA next week. House Republican leaders say they have 100 votes for that bill, and Democrats need to provide 118. On Friday, Democrats provided 40, while 86 Republicans supported it. In other words, Democrats would need to essentially triple their their vote total to pass the measure.  Dems Deal President Huge Defeat - Politico

However, in the House nothing is ever simple and that vote isn’t the end of the story. NCPSSM has urged Members of Congress there is one important lesson from today’s drama – Hands Off Medicare.

“In spite of all the political sleight of hand and twisting of the legislative process into a pretzel to pass the trade package, there is one clear lesson today:  Medicare does not belong in the trade debate.  Period.  Trade Adjustment Assistance legislation failed in large part because it was burdened with a pay-for the American people simply do not support.  American workers deserve to have job training assistance through reauthorization of the TAA; however, demanding that important proposal be paid for by cutting $950 million dollars from Medicare poisoned the process.

Using Medicare to fund unrelated programs is a relatively new yet growing trend in Congress that simply must stop.  Medicare isn’t Washington’s ATM.  The American people understand this.  Hopefully, Members of Congress have learned that lesson and won’t make the same mistake again when the trade debate resumes.” ...Max Richtman, NCPSSM President/CEO



House Leaders Hope Political Smoke and Mirrors will Hide Medicare Cuts in Trade Bill

With an expected House vote tomorrow on controversial trade legislation supported by the President and the Senate, House leadership of bothparties are scrambling to find a way to provide political cover for the $950 million in Medicare cuts being used to fund part of the trade bill.  Stealing funds from Medicare to pay for Congress’ pet projects has become increasingly common.  This Trade package is just the latest example.   

Members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and the Congressional Task Force on Seniors have led the charge against this proposal:

10,000 people a day turn 65.  We should be investing and expanding Medicare not stealing from it.  People have paid into this program and expect it to be there...not to use that to fund anytime we need money to pay for another program...Medicare is not the ATM for everything Congress wants to pay for.  Cutting this social insurance program isn’t the direction we should be going in. Medicare should not be the pay-for for trade deal. The best way to help workers is to stop trade deals that take their jobs...not cut Medicare to fund fixes.” Rep. Jan Shakowsky (D-IL)

“There’s going to be untold riches earned if TPP is enacted into law.  There’s no doubt about that. Great profits will be derived for large international seems only logical that the multinationals should fund the costs of the Trade Adjustment Assistance. I can not abide this.  We’ll fight it with everything we have.”  Keith Ellison (D-MN)

That pressure has worked as more and more Members now realize what is included in this trade vote and this week voiced their opposition to using Medicare as an ATM to pay for Trade Adjustment Assistance legislation. 

However, rather than go back to the drawing board, House leaders have now crafted a political sleight of hand designed to pass TAA while providing Members of Congress political coverage for cutting Medicare.  This is a segment of NCPSSM’s letter to Congress today and comments from NCPSSM President/CEO, Max Richtman: 

“Although Representative Paul Ryan’s amendment to H.R. 1295, the “Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015,” would remove the Medicare sequester from H.R. 1314, there is no guarantee that the Senate will approve this amendment. In addition, the Ryan amendment is flawed because it does not remove the Medicare dialysis provision from H.R. 1314.

We believe that this scheme amounts to a shell game which will force you and your colleagues to be on record with a vote to cut a program that is supported overwhelmingly by Americans of all political affiliations and age groups. What’s more, it sets a dangerous precedent of treating Medicare as a piggybank to pay for unrelated programs. Savings from changes in Medicare policy should be used to improve Medicare – not for other purposes.”

“For millions of seniors and their families a vote to cut Medicare is a vote to cut Medicare.  Period.  There is no political sleight of hand that will provide Members of Congress protection on election day for a vote which raids Medicare to pay for the trade bill.

Cutting Medicare to pay for everything else under the sun has become a habit that Congress needs to break.  This trade vote is the perfect time to do it. 

Medicare isn’t Washington’s ATM.  The American people understand this.  Members of Congress who don’t will undoubtedly be reminded very clearly by their political opponents and voters come Election Day.”...Max Richtman, NCPSSM President/CEO






National Seniors' Coalition Transfers Chairmanship to NCPSSM

NCPSSM President/CEO, Max Richtman, Assumes Chairmanship of the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations

“For too many years our nation’s most successful retirement and health security programs have been under almost constant assault by those who hope to cut these programs to pay for a myriad of other purposes – from tax cuts and deficit reduction to trade deals.  These attacks come at a time when 10,000 Americans turn 65 each day, our nation faces a retirement crisis and the need for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and Older Americans Act programs is growing. With so much at stake and a stormy political climate ahead, the National Committee is proud to take over the leadership of the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations continuing the LCAO’s important work on behalf of America’s seniors. We’re at a critical time in history and the LCAO will lead the effort to strengthen programs seniors and their families depend on.”...Max Richtman, NCPSSM President/CEO

The 72 senior advocacy groups that comprise the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations have spent decades educating and advocating on behalf of the nation’s senior citizens.  From Social Security to long-term care issues, the LCAO has been a leading voice in the debate on how best to serve America’s senior population—current and future.  This year will be especially busy for the LCAO as 2015 marks Medicare’s 50th anniversary and the 80th anniversary for Social Security.  The White House Conference on Aging is also being held this year with LCAO organizations engaged nationwide and playing a leadership role to ensure seniors’ voices play an important role in the event.

Max Richtman’s one-year chairmanship begins June 3rd.

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