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NRLN Works to Protect Your Retirement Security

The National Retiree Legislative Network (NRLN) works to enact federal legislation to protect employer-sponsored pensions, health care benefits and keep Social Security and Medicare strong.

With support from more than 2 million members and Washington, D.C. staff, the NRLN identifies and rallies support for federal legislation that will guarantee fair and equitable treatment of retirees from the private and public sectors. Learn more about the NRLN and legislation important to retirees by clicking on the "About Us" and "Legislative" links above.

The NRLN recently created the American Retirees Education Foundation (AREF) with a mission is to research, educate and inform retirees, future retirees and the general public on how best to protect and promote retirement income security and retiree health care. Contributions to AREF are tax deductible.

To learn more about the AREF, go to www.SeniorsAREF.org .

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click here to read the NRLN's current Action Alert and send the sample letter to your elected representatives.

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PRESIDENT'S
 FORUM

Retirees Join Rally at U.S. Capitol to Stop Pension Cuts

As I looked out over the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol on April 14 while awaiting my turn to speak, I could read placards “Why Won’t Congress Defend Retirees??”, “We Earned Our Pension – Stop The Cuts”, “Stop Pension Theft – Join the Fight Yours May Be Next”, “Steal Pensions Today, Social Security Tomorrow”, and dozens more. (photos at right.)

The placards were at a Washington, DC rally of some 4,000 Teamsters Union participants in the Central States Pension Fund who are facing severe July 1 pension benefit cuts under the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act (MPRA) passed by Congress in late December 2014 as part of the Fiscal Year 2015 spending bill. The outrage at the rally, amid chants of “No Cuts”, focused on the seeming lack of political will from Congress to rescue a pension plan or assist the retirees in other ways.

Beneficiaries in the Central States Pension Fund, which is projected to be insolvent within a decade, are some 400,000 retirees who worked in trucking, parcel delivery and grocery supply industries. The Central States Pension Fund is administered on behalf of employers and unions in industries where workers often move between companies in the same field. The Central States Pension Fund has $18 billion in assets and $35 billion in liabilities, with yearly payouts that exceed contributions.

I was invited to speak at the rally because the NRLN had opposed the passage of MPRA because it gave trustees of severely underfunded multiemployer pension plans the authority to propose to the Treasury Department reductions in pension payments of as much as 60 percent. The NRLN has also lobbied for legislation to rectify MPRA not only because it is unfair to retirees in multiemployer pension plans, but because it nullifies the benefit anti-cutback provision of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) for multi-employer plans and sets a bad precedent that could someday negatively impact single employer pension plans and even Social Security and Medicare.

In my brief remarks, some of what I said was: “MPRA is not only setting a bad precedent for you it is setting it for the rest of the country. The suffering on your part is heard across the country in my organization. Our concern in the NRLN is this MPRA precedent will bleed into the single payer plans and disrespect every damn worker [and retiree] in this country.

“Congress ought to be sitting down and doing something for you. This so called solution is going to lead to even greater hardships than American seniors have experienced up to now. Have you heard of de-risking of pension plans? That says that companies are trying to do everything they can to get rid of pension plans in this country.

“We very much oppose MPRA. We will be with you and we will be on the Hill again lobbying our proposal to eliminate MPRA all together. Best to you and we will be supporting you.”

Until I heard the full story, I was not aware that pension benefits earned by these retirees was typically less than $3,000 a month for someone with over 25 years of service and that over 100,000 were at risk of losing up to 60% of that amount. Members of Congress talked about how named Wall Street firms that managed the Central States Fund lost far more assets than other plans did and created the failure of this very large plan.

There were at least a dozen members of Congress who spoke at the rally.

Ohio Representatives Marcy Kaptor and Tim Ryan talked about the bill they have introduced called the Keep Our Pension Promises Act (H.R. 2844) that would repeal MPRA, and would create a “legacy fund” with the Pension Benefits Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) to prop up plans such as Central States that are at risk of failing. (Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, a Democratic presidential candidate, has introduced similar legislation—S.1631—in the Senate) Unfortunately, there does not seem to be sufficient support in the Republican-controlled Congress for either of these bills to move forward.

Ohio Senator Rob Portman spoke about the Pension Accountability Act (S. 2147), the legislation he has introduced that would change the voting process on any required cuts. His bill would keep the Treasury Department from overruling any vote retirees could take against potential pension cuts and require that only filled-out ballots be counted. That would keep pension trustees from sending out ballots that are never returned and counting them among the votes in favor. But Senator Portman has stopped short of calling for legislation that would immediately inject cash into the Central States Pension Fund.

Other members of Congress that I recall who spoke in support of the retirees included, Senators Tammy Baldwin (WI), Sherrod Brown (OH), Al Franken (MN), Chuck Grassley (IA), Heidi Heitkamp (ND) Debbie Stabenow (MI) and Elizabeth Warren (MA). Congresswoman Debbie Dingle (MI) also spoke in support.

Among other speakers were Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa, and Mike Walden and Bob Amsden, leaders of the pension committees throughout the country who organized the rally and arranged for bus transportation to Washington, DC. Karen Friedman, the Executive Vice President and Policy Director of the Pension Rights Center, called for repealing MPRA and finding a bipartisan solution that fixes the problem of underfunded multiemployer plans and the PBGC – and protects the pension promises of retirees.

The Treasury Department is set to make the final decision to move forward or not with the cuts and plan participants then would face a vote to accept them or risk losing the plan should it be unable to pay benefits. Let’s all hope the enthusiasm exhibited by retirees and the words of support from the politicians will result in the protection of these pension benefits.

It is significant to note that only PRC and NRLN advocate representatives were singled out to speak as defenders of ERISA protection for retirees. Your company Association and Chapter presidents, NRLN board members, Regional Grassroots Vice Presidents and our Executive Director in Washington D.C. work hard to earn and maintain the respect needed to be in a national leadership position on pension issues.

Bill Kadereit, President
National Retiree Legislative Network

NRLN IS WORKING FOR YOU

The NRLN regularly informs members by email about important information. If you did not receive an email with the NRLN President’s Forum message or an Action Alert posted on this home page, possibly you mistakenly “unsubscribed” on one of our emails or you have a new email address that is not in the NRLN’s database. You will no longer hear from us unless you “re-subscribe”. To “re-subscribe”, click here.


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Click here to read the SUMMER 2016 issue of the NRLN FOCUS Newsletter


action alert

NRLN Action Alert – Tell Congress: Don’t Eliminate SHIP Needed for Medicare Advice

The Senate Appropriations Committee made a blunder when it voted to abolish the entire $52.1 million in federal funding for the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) in the budget bill. SHIP has been a valuable program for older adults and younger people with disabilities who need advice on complex traditional Medicare, Medicare Supplemental Insurance (Medigap) and Medicare Advantage programs. Click here to send the NRLN’s sample letters to tell your Senators and Representative that funding for SHIP should not be eliminated in the budget bills.


NRLN 2016 Survey Results

Between May 2 and June 5, 2016, there were 6,737 NRLN grassroots advocates who participated in all or parts of the 2016 NRLN Future Directions Survey. The data in the survey will help the NRLN and its retiree associations and chapters gain a better understanding of what is important to retirees and future retirees plus indicating whether the right priorities are set. The responses to questions where personal comments were given or personal contact information was provided are not included. Click here to view survey results.


Pain around the Corner – Pensions

(May 5, 2016) When the NRLN issues an Action Alert we can tell from statistics produced in our database that some do not open the email and a number of those who do don’t follow up and send a letter to their members of Congress. It is regrettable that some individuals are insulated and unconcerned about the need to advocate legislation for important retirement issues. This message, Pain around the Corner – Pensions, is the first in a series of emails from me to address the need to protect pensions, Social Security, Medicare, and reduce the cost of health care, particularly the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs.

Only legislation passed by Congress and signed into law by the President can address the need to protect pensions. Legislation is needed to force pension plan sponsors to obtain federal agency approval before merging a well-funded pension plan with one or more lower-funded plans to avoid having to contribute money to shore up the lower funded plans. Read more...


PENSION FUND RALLY

rally
action alert
report card

NRLN Provides New “Report Card” Feature on Members of Congress

NRLN has introduced a “report card” for each state that shows whether the U.S. Representatives and Senators have supported bills in Congress advocated by the NRLN. Read all about it here.


NRLN members are saving big with the Free Health Savings Rx Card℠

The NRLN has arranged to offer you a Health Savings Rx Card™, at NO COST, that offers you and your family savings on prescription drugs, plus vision and hearing services and products.Click here to access the Rx Savings Card℠ website.If you do not already have a Health Savings Rx Card℠ you will need to create your personal login and then printout your free card. Savings information for prescription drugs, vision and hearing services and products is available through the links under the Savings Plus tab.


MEMBERS COMMENTS

Bonnie Gatewood, Livonia, MI...Thank you and the NRLN for all the work you do to help protect pension plans for so many. Your steady watch gives us hope that what we worked long and hard for (41 years in my case) will not be taken away.

Heather Ward, Canandaigua, NY...You [NRLN President Bill Kadereit] are one of our country’s most sincere and hardest working leaders. I am so impressed that you have chosen this arduous task at this time in your life. As a recent widow of a Kodak retiree, and one who has lost ALL of her husband’s Kodak Survivor benefits due to its bankruptcy, I feel that at least someone is in my corner, fighting the good fight. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

more members comments here.

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Sorry, We Don’t Take Obamacare
By Elisabeth Rosenthal; The New York Times ~ May 14, 2016

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By Peter Sullivan; The Hill ~ May 14, 2016

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By Dave Gram; The Associated Press ~ May 14, 2016

New ObamaCare Shock: $7,050 Silver-Plan Deductible
By Jed Graham; Investor’s Business Daily ~ May 13, 2016

Hospitals Are Biggest Losers in Latest Legal Attack on Obamacare
By John Lauerman; Bloomberg ~ May 13, 2016

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By Editorial Board; The Washington Post ~ May 08, 2016

Who Will Take On The Brunt Of Rising Health Insurance Prices?
From Robert Harrow; Forbes ~ May 09, 2016

Feds to showcase health insurer ‘success stories’
By Sarah Ferris; The Hill ~ May 09, 2016

Opinion: How the U.S. can lower out-of-control health-insurance premiums
By Tony Colarossi; MarketWatch ~ May 09, 2016

Medicare Out-of-Pocket Costs You Should Expect to Pay
By Emily Brandon; US News & World Report ~ May 09, 2016

6 Years Later, Obamacare's Biggest Flaw Still Hasn't Been Resolved
By Sean Williams; The Motley Fool ~ May 08, 2016

It's time for action on Social Security disability insurance
By Jim McCrery & Earl Pomeroy; The Hill ~ May 06, 2016

Fears Over Taxpayer Confusion Mount After It's Revealed IRS Might Be Calling You After All
By Kelly Phillips Erb ; Forbes ~ May 07, 2016

New ACA concern: Insurers may drop bronze plans
By Leslie Small; FierceHealthPayer ~ May 05, 2016

The Disappointing Jobs Report Is Even Worse Than You Think
By Chris Matthews; Fortune ~ May 06, 2016

Doctors call for single-payer healthcare to improve on Obamacare
By Stephen Feller; United Press International ~ May 06, 2016

Treasury rejects plan to cut pension benefits for some retirees
By Jonnelle Marte; The Washington Post ~ May 06, 2016

Administration tightens ObamaCare sign-up rules
By Peter Sullivan; The Hill ~ May 06, 2016

Obama calls for Congress to combat tax evasion and money laundering
By Naomi Jagoda & Jordan Fabian; The Hill ~ May 06, 2016

Relocating in retirement? Here’s a valuable resource
By Glenn Ruffenach; MarketWatch ~ May 06, 2016

Calling Real Leaders
By Mortimer B. Zuckerman; US News & World Report ~ May 06, 2016

Here's How Much Long-Term Health Care Actually Costs
By Jason Notte; Main St ~ May 05, 2016

​Insurers planning big Obamacare price hikes next year
By Aimee Picchi; CBS News ~ May 05, 2016

Lawmakers Criticize Medicare Plan for Costly Drugs
By Stephanie Armour; The Wall Street Journal ~ May 05, 2016

Lawmakers demand IRS explain how it found $$ for hundreds of new agents
By Jennifer G. Hickey; Fox News ~ May 05, 2016

It's the Little Things that Kill Your Retirement Savings
From PMD Staff; Money Digest ~ May 05, 2016

$9.7M settlement to aid Kodak retirees hurt in bankruptcy
By Brian Sharp, D&C; USA TODAY ~ Apr 28, 2016

Health Insurers Shift More Costs To Taxpayers In Obamacare Exchanges
From John Graham; Forbes ~ May 04, 2016

Obama Admin Plans End Run Around Congress with Obamacare Bailout Scheme
By Phil Kerpen; Cybercast News Service ~ May 03, 2016

Change is in the works for Humana ACA exchange participation
By Tom Murphy; The Associated Press ~ May 04, 2016

GOP subpoenas ObamaCare documents
By Peter Sullivan; The Hill ~ May 04, 2016

Obama official willing to change controversial Medicare proposal
By Peter Sullivan; The Hill ~ May 04, 2016

Americans worry about climbing health costs
By Jack Craver; BenefitsPRO ~ May 04, 2016

Researchers Call For Better Tracking Of Medical Errors As They Climb To No. 3 Cause Of Deaths
From KHN Morning Briefing; Kaiser Health News ~ May 04, 2016

Is Digital Health Finally About to Turn All That Hype Into Results?
By Sy Mukherjee; Fortune ~ May 04, 2016

Study Finds Employers Are Hiring More Freelancers To Avoid Obamacare
By Juliegrace Brufke, Daily Caller – May 3, 2016

More Democrats Take Unfavorable View of Obamacare
By Ali Meyer, Washington Free Beacon – May 3, 2016

Obamacare customers overpaid $8M by IRS
By Tom Howell, Jr. Washington Times – May 3, 2016

Average American household approaching retirement has this much saved up
Austin Smith, Motley Fool in USA Today – May 3, 2016

MetLife hit with $25 million penalty for misleading retirement clients
By Adam Shell, USA Today – May 3, 2016

Dem senators: Slash executive pay at pension plans seeking benefit cuts
By Peter Schroeder, The Hill – May 3, 2016

273,000 union workers and retirees brace for pension cuts
By Katie Lobosco, Money.CNN.Com – May 2, 2016

Even in retirement men and women are different
By Rodney Brooks, Washington Post – May 2, 2016

Medicare’s Drug Payment Proposal Puts Patients First
By Ezekiel J. Emanuel, M.D., Ph.D. and Maura Calsyn, Huffington Post – May 2, 2016

Medicare Pays Bonuses To 231 Hospitals With Lower Quality Because Of Cheaper Costs
By Jordan Rau, Kaiser Health News – May 2, 2016

Raising Medicare eligibility age would spike overall health spending
By Shannon Muchmore and Harris Meyer, Modern Healthcare – May 2, 2016

Opinion: How to give people on Social Security a fairer shake
By Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Tammy Duckworth, Chicago Sun Times May 2, 2016

Don't blame income equality for the fall of Social Security
By Brenton Smith, The Hill – May 2, 2016

She Oversaw Obamacare's Implementation. Now She Has a Chilling Forecast Regarding Its Future.
By Sean Williams; The Motley Fool ~ May 01, 2016

She Oversaw Obamacare's Implementation. Now She Has a Chilling Forecast Regarding Its Future.
By Sean Williams; The Motley Fool ~ May 01, 2016

As UnitedHealth Bails On Obamacare, Rivals Look To Expand
From Bruce Japsen; Forbes ~ May 01, 2016

Seniors face more foreclosures as reverse mortgages bite back
By Jenifer McKim & Koby Levin; Weymouth News ~ May 01, 2016

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