LUCENT RETIREE ISSUES BEING PURSUED BY THE NRLN
Life Insurance Benefit: The LRO has been dealing with Nokia for years to secure additional funding for the underfunded Group Life Insurance Trust (GLI). Recently Nokia announced it plans to transfer $316 million of the excess pension assets to pay for Group Life coverage for eligible Lucent / Nokia retirees. The current pension funding exceeds the current law’s threshold of 120% and thus allows the transfer. The NRLN, Lucent Chapter, and Nokia continue to lobby members of Congress to pass legislation that would make it possible for Nokia (and other companies) with pension plans funded at 110% or more to use surplus funds to sustain benefits.
Pension Recoupment: The NRLN is also advocating its pension recoupment proposal. Recoupment is when a pension plan sponsor finds an error in the pension payment calculation and forces a retiree (some Lucent retirees have experienced this) to pay back thousands of dollars and suffer a cut in his/her pension benefit. The NRLN wants to limit on the number of years that retirees can be exposed to paying back overpayments and the percent that can be taken from their monthly pension checks to repay the pension plan.
Corporate Mergers: We have gone through the corporate mergers with Alcatel-Lucent and Nokia. The NRLN has developed a whitepaper and is lobbying Congress for legislation to protect retirees in corporate mergers, acquisitions and spin-off.
Social Security: Beginning in 2020, Social Security will pay more in benefits than it takes in from taxes and interest. Social Security will deplete its $2.9 trillion reserve fund in 2035. While the program will not go bankrupt due to payroll taxes, benefits would be cut by about one-fourth. To prevent a cut in benefits and fund the program for the next 75 years, the NRLN is supporting passage of Social Security 2100 Act in Congress.
Medicare & Medicare Advantage: Original Medicare’s Hospital Insurance program (Medicare Part A) is pointed toward insolvency by 2026. At that time, Medicare Part A will only have enough funds to pay about 87% of costs. Congress is allowing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) to use taxpayer dollars to subsidize insurance companies for Medicare Advantage (MA) plans to serve as a move toward privatization. The NRLN opposes the use of MA plans to privatize Medicare. The NRLN is also advocating that original Medicare participants have access to the special benefits being offered in MA plans. If Medicare is privatized, current MA plan participants should be grandfathered to protect their benefits and subsidies.
Prescription Drug Prices: The NRLN is lobbying to allow Medicare to do competitive bidding for lower prescription drug prices; end pay-for-delay and other brand name drugmakers’ tactics that keep generic drugs off the market, and allow importation of safe and less expensive drugs from Canada.