vern

March 2, 2020
To: Avaya Retirees Chapter members of the National Retiree Legislative Network
Subject: February 2020 NRLN Meeting in Washington, DC

I attended the NRLN lobbing meetings in Washington, D.C. on February 23 - 26, 2020 with other NRLN association and chapter officers and members from all over the country.

I also attended the NRLN Board Meeting on Monday morning February 24. This was my first Board of Director's meeting as a Member. Bill Kadereit, our President opened the board meeting by stating the NRLN five goals - 1. Maintain leadership as the most informed and proactive retiree advocate organization on all income and health care issues. 2. Develop and aggressively lobby for fact-based proposals. 3. Support member's former employers whenever possible. 4. Use direct contact and social media tools to expand membership and grassroots efforts among current and prospective retirees. 5. Place the NRLN logo on websites of various organizations with link to NRLN website. I was called on to report on the new NRLN membership developments efforts.

Subsequently, on Monday, at our Annual Leadership Conference we heard presentations from the NRLN staff on details for the focus areas for our meetings we had scheduled with Congress members.

We also had an in-depth presentation on Medicare from Tricia Neuman, Sc.D., Senior Vice President from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

On Tuesday, NRLN attendees visited members of Congress and their staffs on the Hill to advocate for legislation on the four issues below.

I had appointments with Senators and Representatives and their staffs. I met with staff members from the offices of Senator Joni Ernst (Iowa), and Senator Deb Fischer (Nebraska), and Don Bacon, Congressman for Nebraska's 2nd District.

On Wednesday I attended the Nebraska Congressional Breakfast, the oldest and only ongoing state gathering for constituents on Capitol Hill. Prior to the start of the program I met with Senator Ben Sasse and Katherine Duveneck, his Legislative Assistant, (photo above) and covered the talking point highlights of our position on Medicare Advantage.

During the Nebraska Breakfast all five members of Congress were present; Senators Ben Sasse and Deb Fischer and the Nebraska members of the House of Representatives, Don Bacon, Adrian Smith and Jeff Fortenberry. Each spoke to the attendees on various topics that they are working on. The fun informal format is a welcome change from normal Washington meetings.

All of our NRLN representatives advocated for improved legislation to protect retirees on the following four topics. I have provided below links to the "talking point" documents that we used in our meetings. Also, additional information can be found under the legislative agenda tab at www.nrln.org.

Medicare Advantage (MA) Plans move Medicare toward privatization. NRLN opposes the use of government subsidies to insurance companies for Medicare Advantage plans to move Medicare toward privatization. These plans are taxpayer subsidized by Medicare and if the subsidies should go away beneficiaries could be faced with higher premiums and cuts in benefits.

Some Facts: Medicare costs are increasing at much higher rate than the increase in the number of enrollees. In 2018 CMS paid out more per MA enrollee (3% more) than for traditional Medicare enrollee even though MA plans are usually held by younger more healthy retirees, Congress funded 19 new benefits in 2020 for MA plan enrollees that are not available to traditional Medicare enrollees, and MA costs per enrollee are projected to increase faster vs traditional Medicare over the next 10 years.

NRLN Advocates: Investigate financials of MA and traditional Medicare with and without subsides, focus on reducing the cost of services, encourage private insurance companies to compete with Medicare without subsidies, make all extra MA services available to traditional Medicare enrollees, and work to reduce improper payments

On February 21, the New York Times had a story that is all too common on the plight of a patient who had enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan. Click here to read the article.

Reduce the Cost of Prescription Drugs: We advocated for passing legislation to direct Medicare to do competitive bidding for prescription drugs, allowing importation of safe and less expensive drugs from approved pharmacies in Canada and ending pay-for-delay and other drug makers' tactics that obstruct generic drugs from coming to market. Even though there has been plenty of talk about this and several pending bills in Congress nothing has been done to reduce the price of drugs and in fact the cost has steadily increased much more that the rate of inflation.

Pension Plan De-risking: Advocated the NRLN's position on companies transferring pension assets to third party insurance companies to replace promised pension benefits, causing the loss of PBGC insurance protection. The NRLN advocates that plan sponsors purchase reinsurance or back-up insurance from a second, highly rated insurer.

Click on the following Talking Point titles for more details.

-- Medicare Privatization - A Bait and Switch Failure and Government Scandal
-- Congress Must Act to Reduce Price of Prescription Drugs - Talk Is Cheap - Drugs Are Not!
-- Pension Plan De-risking: Fiduciary Protection of Retirees
-- Pension Plan Risks in Mergers, Acquisitions and Spin-offs

Click here to see more photos taken during Capitol Hill appointments.

Regards,
Vern Larson, President, NRLN Avaya Retirees Chapter and
NRLN Vice President of Membership Development


Help Avaya Retirees Keep Access to Health Coverage Tax Credit HCTC

A number of Avaya salaried retirees have benefited from the Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC) because they lost their company healthcare coverage due to the Avaya bankruptcy. This refundable tax credit pays 72.5% of qualified health insurance premiums for eligible individuals between the ages of 55 and 64 (before Medicare eligibility) and their families.

Unfortunately, the HCTC is scheduled to expire on December 31, 2019, unless Congress passes legislation to extend it as it has done a number of times since HCTC was first enacted in 2002. There are bills in the U.S. House of Representatives, H.R.1939, and in the U.S. Senate, S. 2414, which, if enacted, would extend HCTC for five years.

You should have received an Action Alert email this morning (Monday, November 25) from NRLN President Bill Kadereit and Bob Martina, NRLN VP – Grassroots, encouraging you to email the NRLN’s sample letter to your Representative and Senators to urge them to pass legislation to extend HCTC for five more years.

I want to emphasize how important it is for you to respond to the Action Alert to help Avaya salaried retirees who have benefited from this program to have HCTC extended. Now is the time for Congress to focus on governing for the people.

Click here if you have not already responded to the Action Alert. Click on the “Take Action” button below the HCTC Action Alert message; next enter your street address and zip code, and click “GO”. It will present the sample letters for you to email to your U.S. Senators and U.S. Representative. If you have a problem with this link, go to www.nrln.org and click on the red flashing icon “Respond to an Action Alert” near the top of the NRLN website home page.

I recommend that you add your personal comments to the letter on how important HCTC is to Avaya retirees and their families who have lost their healthcare benefits due to the Avaya bankruptcy.

Vern Larson, President, NRLN Avaya Retirees Chapter
NRLN Board Member, Vice President – Membership Development


Click here to join the Avaya Retirees Chapter


donut hole

The donut hole is closed, but drugs won’t be free! Click here to read the entire article that has important information.



NEWS FOR AVAYA MEMBERS

Click here for Avaya Holdings Corp. press releases

 

Avaya to Plan Auction After Getting Unsolicited Interest
By Kiel Porter and Gillian Tan, Bloomberg – April 9, 2019

Avaya Announces Chief Financial Officer Transition
Avaya Press Release – Feb 11, 2019

Avaya Reports First Quarter Fiscal 2019 Financial Results
Avaya Press Release – Feb 11, 2019

Avaya Brings Back IBM, AT&T Vet to Drive Services Adoption
By Edward Gately; Channel Partners ~ Apr 06, 2018

Mobile at EC18: Avaya Shakes Up the Service Provider Business
By Michael F. Finneran: No Jitter ~ Mar 30, 2018

Avaya Creates Unique Mobile CX Solution
By Sheila McGee-Smith; No Jitter ~ Mar 12, 2018

Avaya emerges from Chapter 11 after restructure
By James Pearce; Global Telecoms Business ~ Dec 18, 2017

Avaya to pay PBGC $340 million as part of restructuring agreement
By Hazel Bradford; Pensions & Investments ~ Nov 29, 2017

U.S. judge clears Avaya Inc to exit bankruptcy
By Jim Christie; Reuters ~ Nov 28, 2017

S&P 500’s Biggest Pension Plans Face $382 Billion Funding Gap
By Brandon Kochkodin and Laurie Meisler, Bloomberg - Jul 20, 2017

Extreme Networks Completes Acquisition of the Networking Business from Avaya, Inc.
Avaya Press Release – Jul 17, 2017

Avaya, bankruptcy and the state of the changing communications market
By Justine Brown; CIO Dive ~ May 23, 2017

Avaya sells networking business to Extreme Networks for $100 million
By Natalie Gagliordi ; ZDNet ~ Mar 07, 2017

Avaya's Chapter 11 filing sends waves of disruption
By Guy William Clinch, NetworkWorld - Feb 10, 2017

Legally & Practically: What Avaya's Chapter 11 Means to Customers
By Marth Buyer, No Jitter - Feb 8, 2017

Avaya Partners Relieved by Chapter 11 Filing, Decision Not to Sell Call-Center Business
By Edward Gately; Channel Partners ~ Feb 01, 2017

Avaya granted $425m loan from US court
By James Pearce; Capacity Media ~ Jan 23, 2017

Avaya files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, won't sell contact center assets
By Larry Dignan, zdnet - Jan 19, 2017

Telecom Company Avaya Files for Bankruptcy
Reuters report in Fortune – Jan 19, 2017

Multibillion-dollar phone firm deal may fall apart
By Josh Kosman, New York Post - Jan 4, 2017


Avaya Q4 2018 Financial Results - January 2019

Click here to review text and graphics on Avaya's 4th Quarter 2018 Financial Results.


 

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