To: NRLN Grassroots Network Members
In most states, the Democratic, Republican and Independent candidates have been identified for the November 7, 2006 Election Day ballots.
Now, it is time for us as responsible citizens and NRLN Grassroots Network members to learn as much as we can about what each candidate stands for and what he/she will commit to do if elected. Please join others in the NRLN during the months of September, October and November as we test all candidates on their intention to support pro-retiree legislation in Washington, then vote for those who support us.
I urge you to take the time to write to the candidates and ask their positions on a number of important issues. Also, attend town hall meetings held by the candidates and ask your questions in person. To assist you, a sample letter with important questions for the candidates based on the NRLN’s legislative agenda follows this message.
To obtain the names and contact information for U.S. House and Senate candidates go to the NRLN website at https://ssl.capwiz.com/abtr/e4/ and click on your state on the map. If you should have a problem accessing this link go to the NRLN Home Page at http://www.nrln.org. Click on the “Click here” in the first paragraph under the headline “Take Action Now.” When the next page appears enter you zip code in the box under “Election & Candidates” and click on “GO.” A listing for the House of Representatives election and the Senate election (if there is a race) in your state will appear. Click on the “See Candidates.”
When you click on the “See Candidates” button, most of the candidates will display an email address. You may copy and paste the letter below or your edited letter into the email box and send it.
The letter includes questions that the NRLN believes are important. We hope that you agree that the questions we’ve identified are important, but feel free to edit the list of questions with adds or deletions. When you receive a response from the candidates, the NRLN would appreciate your forwarding a copy of their letter to NRLNpoint@msn.com. By gathering information on what the candidate says he/she stands for, the NRLN will be able to use that information in future dealings with the candidates who are elected.
Our best opportunity for passing legislation that will benefit retirees is to elect those individuals who understand the pension, health care and other economic and social problems facing retirees and are willing to work on solutions. Please share this message with your friends who are not yet associated with the NRLN and request that they also write to the candidates. Thanks for your support
A.J. (Jim) Norby, NRLN President
As a citizen concerned about the future of our nation and as a member of the National Retiree Legislative Network concerned about the security of my retirement years, I want to know where you stand on a number if issues before I decide how to cast my vote on November 7, 2006.
In addition to candidly responding to the attached questions, I would appreciate it if you’d inform me when you will be conducting town hall meetings with voters in my area.
Your response to these questions and providing any additional information about your candidacy will be greatly appreciated. I recognize that the control of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate are at stake in this election. I want to everything possible to make sure that my vote goes for the candidate that will make the right decisions for Americans, including its retired citizens.
1 Employers promised millions of retirees they would have health care benefits during their retirement years. Now, employers are shifting much of the cost of health care insurance to retirees or are totally eliminating it. If elected, will you sponsor ERISA legislation requiring Maintenance-of-Costs Payments to retirees effective the first day of retirement that would be a monthly income pension subsidy used to pay for health care coverage? Companies would avoid the cost of ongoing health care inflation and retirees would have the protection of some level of health care coverage.
2 The price of prescription drugs in the United States is rising at triple the rate of inflation.
--Will you support passage of S. 334 to allow U.S. licensed pharmacies, drug wholesalers and American consumers to take advantage of the global marketplace by importing safe, FDA-approved prescription drugs from Canada and other countries at lower prices?
--The Veterans Administration has been successful in lowering drug costs for its patients/clients through competitive bidding. Will you sponsor legislation for Medicare Part D that would initiate competitive bidding for prescription drugs?
--Many employers have eliminated their prescription drug plans and retirees have had to enroll in Medicare Part D which is inferior to the corporate-sponsored plan. Will you sponsor legislation to increase the Part D subsidy/incentive for employers who offer coverage that is superior to Part D?
--Will you support H.R. 4685 to prevent in-year interruptions of Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage and restrict formulary changes?
3 An FDA study has shown that low-cost generic drugs create competition that dramatically lowers prescription prices. Yet, the FDA has a backlog of more than 800 new generic drugs awaiting review. Will you sponsor legislation to increase FDA funding for the express purpose of clearing the generic drug approval backlog and to maintain a minimum backlog of less than three months?
4 Health care insurance premiums for self-employed individuals are tax deductible. Will you sponsor legislation enabling health care premiums and out-of-pocket health care costs for all Americans to be fully tax deductible? Such legislation should also set aside the 7.5% Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) limit) for health care premiums and out of pocket costs not covered by individually purchased plans.
5 Health Care Savings Accounts are helping many Americans deal with the skyrocketing cost of health care. Will you sponsor legislation enabling tax free and penalty free rollover transfers from 401k, IRA, SEP and other individual retirement accounts to Health Care Savings Accounts (HSAs) and permit the tax-free use of such accounts to pay for health care premiums and health care costs not covered by health care insurance? Those who do not own assets in one of the above accounts would also be allowed to fund an HSA with pre-tax dollars in accordance with IRA contribution limitations.
6 In H.R. 4, the Pension Reform Act of 2006, that is now law, Congress reinforced ERISA intent that pension plan assets must be protected for all participants, not just a select few, such as using plan assets for corporate restructuring. Congress enacted in Section 420 of the Internal Revenue Code that the 120% pension funding threshold level should apply in all cases of asset removal. To further solidify the intent of Congress in protecting pension plan assets, will you sponsor ERISA legislation to prevent the use of pension assets to pay for lump-sum layoff or severance pay and other enhancements to selected, yet to be retired, plan participants only?