NRLN Villages Chapter Updates

NRLN President Discusses NRLN ‘Grand Bargain Proposal to Save Social Security and Medicare at Villages Chapter’s Aug. 23 Meeting

Members of the NRLN Villages Chapter were the first to hear NRLN President Bill Kadereit’s presentation on the NRLN’s “Grand Bargain” Proposal to Save Social Security and Medicare for the next 75 years. His presentation was on August 23 in the Lincoln Theater at The Villages Laurel Manor Recreation Center.

Congress blocked payroll tax hikes from 1983 to 2018 (35 years), strangling the life out of the Social Security and Medicare programs. Kicking the can down the road, avoiding new taxes, allowed many politicians to be reelected on a “no new taxes” platform.

By 2034, Social Security’s current $3 trillion in asset reserves will be completely depleted. The program will not go bankrupt because workers and employers continue to pay payroll tax on earned income. However, projections are that benefits would be cut between 17% - 21%.

By 2029, the Medicare trust fund for Medicare Part A Hospital Insurance (HI) will be exhausted. Payroll taxes will only cover about 88% of Medicare Part A (hospital) costs. Unlike Part A, beneficiaries pay premiums for Part B (doctors) coverage. But these premiums account for only 23% of the program’s costs. The rest comes out of the federal Treasury.

The goal of the NRLN’s proposal is to make pertinent financial information about Social Security and Medicare available to seniors and to propose and advocate to members of Congress a nonpartisan view to insure how both programs can remain viable for at least the next 75 years by acting to implement easily understood proposals.

The NRLN Grand Bargain proposal is to close the Social Security and Medicare HI 75-year combined deficit gaps of 3.66%, and help fund federal Medicare B and D, and possibly Medicaid and CHIP obligations by these actions:

2.19% + .39% + 1.08% = 3.66%

Savings would be sequestered to protect them from being spent on other federal discretionary programs. Funds would be applied 1st to close the Medicare HI and Social Security combined deficit gaps totaling 3.66% and then be allocated to reduce the Medicare B and then the Medicare D, and then Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) federal obligations.


The NRLN has been watching with serious concern the actions of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. CMS is using its “innovation center” to undermine traditional Medicare. It is incentivizing insurance companies that receive billions a year in taxpayer subsidies for their Medicare Advantage plans to compete for beneficiaries in traditional Medicare Part A (hospitals) and Part B (doctors). Last year at least two insurers were sued for cheating to collect $400 million in incentive subsidies. Why do insurers deserve subsidies paid for with our payroll taxes?

The Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 gave birth to the Medicare Advantage program with the idea that privatization would cost less than traditional Medicare. However, the federal government pays more for a participant in an insurance company’s Medicare Advantage plan than it does to provide traditional Medicare for a beneficiary. About 21.4 million people are enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans, with 37.7 million in traditional Medicare.

In its announcement this month CMS is going even further to allow insurance companies to attract Americans turning 65 and lure individuals away from traditional Medicare. CMS expanded how it defines the “primarily health-related” benefits that insurers are allowed to include in their 2019 Medicare Advantage policies. Air conditioners for people with asthma, home modifications, rides to medical appointments, healthy groceries, home-delivered meals, etc. are expected be among the new benefits added only to Medicare Advantage coverage when new federal rules take effect next year. There are no similar new benefits and subsidies for Medicare Part A and B.

Also, CMS has announced that it will increase payments in 2019 to insurers offering Medicare Advantage plans by an average of 3.4% next year, allowing them to offer more benefits. That’s well above the 1.84% bump the CMS initially proposed and higher than the 2.95% increase for 2018.


It is highly possible that the actions of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) described in the April 11 posting is a deliberate act to privatize Medicare! No action is expected in Congress this year to try to privatize Medicare, but neither has there been any opposition in Congress to CVS paying subsidies to Medicare Advantage insurers and allowing additional benefits to lure those age 65 and older into Medicare Advantage and away from traditional Medicare. However, the CMS subsidies of 2.95% in 2018 and 3.4% in 2019 are affectively creating a “premium support” plan and thus privatization.

A faction in Congress has been trying for years to privatize Medicare, first with a “voucher” plan, and recently with a “premium support” plan. The “premium support” plan is insurance companies’ scam to get federal subsidies that would privatize and completely destroy Medicare. The plan is to refund insurers who would lowball premiums but get to take in huge multi-billion subsidies. The result is that traditional Medicare Part A and Part B will appear less competitive when actually they are a better deal for taxpayers. ELIMINATING MEDICARE ADVANTAGE AND MEDICARE PART A AND PART B IS THE PLAN!

The NRLN believes that the faction who advocates the “premium support” plan and CMS’ subsidies undermining traditional Medicare is wrong. Respond to the NRLN Action Alert by emailing the NRLN’s sample letter, with your thoughts added, to tell your Representative, Senators and President Trump to place a priority on traditional Medicare beneficiaries, not insurance companies who use Medicare Advantage as a “cash cow” and want even larger subsidies offered by a “premium support” plan. Go to and click on the red flashing icon “Respond to an Action Alert”.


Are seniors over age 65 aware that privatization of Medicare is underway now and will implode Medicare A & B plans, making them prohibitively expensive? No!

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NRLN 2018 Survey Had 5,751 Participants

The NRLN 2018 survey which opened on May 14 closed on June 17 with 5,751 participants. The NRLN’s previous survey was in 2016.

Among the 2018 survey participants 90% were older than age 65; 9% were age 55 to 64 and 1% were age 54 or younger. Twenty-three percent have been retired for over 20 years; 26% 16 to 20 years; 19% 11 to 15 years; 17% 6 to 10 years; 11% less than 5 years and 4% are not yet retired.

Responders to the survey retired from or are still working for 442 companies, public entities or self-employed. All 50 states and District of Columbia are represented in the survey’s results. Eighty-one percent of the responders were salaried retirees (such as supervisory, non-supervisory and technical-professionals). Formerly union represented retirees (CWA, IBEW, UAW, airline unions, etc.) were 13% of the survey participants. The balance of the responders were spouses of a retiree, surviving spouse of a retiree and currently employed.

Details on the responses to the survey will be published in the summer issue of the NRLN FOCUS newsletter. NRLN members will be sent an email to notify them when the newsletter has been posted on


The NRLN Villages Chapter works with the National Retirees Legislative Network to protect pension and health care benefits. The NRLN Villages Chapter Leadership Team thanks those who responded to the survey. The results of the survey can be seen here.


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Hidden FDA Reports Detail Harm Caused By Scores Of Medical Devices
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HHS to divert up to $385M from health programs to shelter migrant children
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U.S. Drug Prices, But Not Out-of-Pocket Costs, Are the World's Highest
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Lawmakers United Against High Drug Prices Bare Partisan Teeth
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Attorney General warns of twist to social security number phone scam
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Trump Will Get Legislation On His Desk This Year To Lower Drug Prices Predicts, Sen. Susan Collins
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Opinion: Top Judiciary Republican: Pharmacy middlemen hurting every day Americans
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Trump Treasury Backtracks On Lump-Sum Pension Rules Meant To Protect Retirees
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Nursing Home Ratings: Who Can You Trust?
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Retirement Benefits For Millions May Be Slashed WithoutPension Agency Reforms, Warns GAO
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Dems offer legislation to tax financial transactions
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Drug company announces new version of insulin at half the price
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Top White House official warns hospitals on surprise medical bills
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Big Pharma Gave Money To Patient Advocacy Groups Opposing Medicare Changes
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Opinion: Newsrooms that rushed to report tax refunds were smaller this year go silent on IRS data showing refunds have increased
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Medicare Trims Payments To 800 Hospitals, Citing Patient Safety Incidents
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Tax scammers are looking for you — here’s how to avoid them
By Paul Brandus; MarketWatch ~ Mar 02, 2019

A Third Type of Carcinogen Was Found in Blood Pressure Medication, FDA Says
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Americans Ready To Crack Down On Drug Prices That Force Some To Skip Doses
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Poll: Nearly 8 in 10 think prescription drug prices are 'unreasonable'
By Rachel Frazin; The Hill ~ Mar 01, 2019

Do you suppose Congress could investigate how health insurance got so expensive?
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GOP group launches $2.9M ad campaign against Medicare negotiating drug prices
By Peter Sullivan; The Hill ~ Feb 28, 2019

Big Doctor Group Supports Medicare And Medicaid 'Buy Ins'
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Opinion: Improved Social Security COLA would help seniors stay ahead of inflation
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Pharma Executives Walked Into Congress Expecting A Public Flogging. They Walked Out Fairly Unscathed.
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Congress Squares Off With Pharma CEOs In Showdown Over High Drug Prices
By Emmarie Huetteman & Jay Hancock; Kaiser Health News ~ Feb 26, 2019

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From Jessica Foley, PhD & Mark Carol, MD, ; The Hill ~ Feb 26, 2019

Opinion: The ‘wall’ that Social Security is about to run into is the one Americans should worry about
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Social Security expansion bill poised to gain traction in Congress
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OIG: CMS improperly paid $84M to nursing facilities that failed to follow its 3-day rule
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Opinion: Why Can't We Expand Access To Transportation For Older Adults?
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Sherrod Brown pushes for Medicare buy-in proposal in place of 'Medicare for all'
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Medicare proposes coverage for new, expensive cancer treatment
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Hospital Drug Prices Are Up to 7 Times Greater Than Medicare Pricing
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JAMA Pushes Health-Care Rationing
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Medicare ambulance rides may no longer end up at ER
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Opinion: Major Clinical Trial Links High Blood Pressure And Mild Cognitive Impairment
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GOP senators introduce bill to end pensions for retiring lawmakers
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False Lead: Senator’s Offer To Help Patient Import Cheap Insulin Goes Nowhere
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FDA to crack down on dietary supplements
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Tax Filers Are Seeing Smaller Refunds on Average in 2019 (So Far)
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Dems unveil bill for Medicare to negotiate drug prices
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Opinion: New Proposal To Update Social Security Fails To Address One Of The Biggest Issues
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Bipartisan senators ask industry for information on surprise medical bills
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Democrats Push Plan to Increase Social Security Benefits and Solvency
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Clash of Giants: UnitedHealth Takes On Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase
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Medicare for All Emerges as Early Policy Test for 2020 Democrats
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Trump health chief presses Congress to pass drug discount plan
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Drugmakers’ Rebates For Middlemen Would Be Viewed As Illegal Kickbacks Under Trump Administration’s Proposal
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Click here to view previous reports of Villages Chapter

Ray Pasternak (left), President, NRLN Villages Chapter, and Luke Newgaard, Legislative Assistant for Rep. Dan Webster (FL-11), pause for a photo after their February 26 meeting.

Villages Chapter Report – February 2019

Ray Pasternak Joins Chrysler Retirees in Washington, DC and Represents Villages Chapter

Ray Pasternak, President, NRLN Villages Chapter, is a Chrysler retiree and a member of the National Chrysler Retirement Organization Board of Directors. In this dual capacity, he represented retirees living in The Villages and Chrysler retirees in meetings with lawmakers and their staffs on Capitol Hill on February 26 during the NRLN’s Annual Leadership Conference in Washington, DC.

Pasternak participated in the NRLN’s briefing session during the afternoon of February 25 where attendees heard presentations on issues they would be advocating on Capitol Hill and received folders they would use in their discussions with Representatives, Senators and/or staff members. At the NRLN’s dinner he listened to Tom Reeder, Director, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation discuss the PBGC’s strong ability to serve as a safety net for defined benefit pensions plans but the severe lack of financial resources to support failed multiemployer pension plans. Multiemployer plans include industries such a trucking, construction and coal mining.

The day on Capitol Hill for Pasternak began with his joining retirees from Chrysler, Genera Motors and Detroit Edison in a discussion of the NRLN issues with two staff members for Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow. In last meeting of the day Pasternak and Ed Beltram, NRLN Vice President – Communications, had a half hour meeting with Luke Newgaard, Legislative Assistant, for Representative Dan Webster, the Congressman who represents a large part of The Villages.

The third meeting with Newgaard since Pasternak became President, NRLN Villages Chapter, centered on the need for legislation to reduce the cost of prescription drugs; concerns that Medicare Advantage plans are moving Medicare toward privatization; protecting retirees in “de-risking” when a pension plan sponsor converts a pension plan to an annuity; requiring actuaries to be responsible for miscalculations and make adjustments in pension plan funding rather than recouping over payments from retirees, and amending laws to allow generously funded pension plans to use surplus assets to fund health care and life insurance benefits.

Upon returning home to The Villages, Pasternak shared his Washington, DC experiences with attendees at the February 28 NRLN Villages Chapter meeting in the Lincoln Theater at the Laurel Manor Recreation Center, 1985 Laurel Manor Drive.

NRLN Action Alert Urges Congress to Reduce Price of Prescription Drugs

On February 6, the NRLN issued an Action Alert pointing out that for years members of Congress have been giving lip service on the need for legislation to reduce the price of prescription drugs, but bills haven’t been passed. The NRLN requested that members email letters to their Representative and Senators to tell them to pass the following bills:

H.R. 275 and S. 62, Empowering Medicare Seniors to Negotiate Drug Prices Act, or H.R. 448 and S.99, Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Act.

Passage of either Act, would direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs under Medicare Part D.

H.R. 478 and S. 61, Safe and Affordable Drugs from Canada Act, would allow the personal importation of safe and lower priced drugs from approved pharmacies in Canada.

S. 64, Preserve Access to Affordable Generics and Biosimiliars Act, would prohibit the practice of pay-for-delay by brand name drug companies who make deals to delay or keep less expensive generic drugs off the market.

The Action Alert is still available for emailing the NRLN’s sample letter to members of Congress at:

Two NRLN President’s Forum Messages Issued in February

Bill Kadereit’s NRLN President’s Forum Message emailed to members, posted on and on February 12 noted that many FDA approved generic drugs are not available to Americans. Of the 1,600 generic drugs that the FDA has approved since January 2017, more than 700 (about 44%) of those generics weren't on the U.S. market as of early January 2019. Also, 36% of generics that would be the first to compete against a branded drug are not yet for sale.

Kadereit said this is outrageous! He stated he agreed with Henry Waxman, the former Congressman who co-sponsored the 1984 law that paved the way for the generic approval process, who said he suspects anti-competitive behavior is a at least partly to blame and that revisions to the so-called Hatch-Waxman Act might be needed. The NRLN is going to look into whether an update to the law is necessary.

Consumers pay 94% of the branded drug price on average when one generic firm enters the market, but that drops to 52% with two competitors and to 44% with three, according to a Federal Drug Administration (FDA) analysis. The savings ripple across the health-care system, and in 2016 generics saved $253 billion, according to a June 2017 report from the Association for Accessible Medicines.

The other NRLN President’s Forum message was issued on February 19. The message shared information from a Wall Street Journal article on its investigation that revealed major U.S. health insurance companies had dramatically inflated their cost projections under the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit program, fleecing taxpayers for $9.1 billion in extra payments from 2006 to 2015.

Kadereit noted this is a dramatic example of NRLN's concerns stated in our whitepaper that the CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid) is using taxpayer subsidies to private insurance companies for Medicare Advantage plans as a Trojan horse to move toward the privatization of Medicare. An October 2017 CBO report sent to the House Budget Committee reported that the projected results for Medicare privatization (using the Medicare Advantage plan model) would lower net federal payments to all Medicare beneficiaries by 8% in 2024. However, total payments by all Medicare affected beneficiaries would rise by 18%. This is cost shifting, not cost improvement, a scam!

During Kadereit’s research for his whitepaper on this subject, he learned that the federal agencies in 2017 made $141 billion in wrong and improper payments with particularly $90 billion attributable to Medicare and Medicaid. The NRLN is advocating that the government make it a priority to reduce this waste of taxpayer dollars and sequester the savings to eliminate the 75-year deficits of Medicare Part A and Part B, then Part D.

The NRLN and AREF Partnership

The National Retiree Legislative Network (NRLN) created the American Retirees Education Foundation (AREF) in 2014 to develop whitepapers and advocate policy recommendations for retirement security to federal policymakers, constituency groups, the media, and the general public. The AREF, an IRS 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization, researches and produces whitepapers and other materials and can use them to educate NRLN members and other advocates on how to present legislative proposals.

The AREF can advocate proposals to members of Congress and federal agencies but once a proposal is introduced as a bill, only the NRLN, an IRS 501(c)4 non-exempt organization, can lobby for passage of a bill. The AREF can advocate but not lobby. This allows members to make tax-deductible donations that are accounted for separately from NRLN contributions. To learn more about the AREF and NRLN go to and

NRLN and AREF Revenue

Seventy-five percent of NRLN revenue comes from non-deductible individual contributions. The other twenty-five percent of NRLN revenue comes from company retiree association dues paid to the NRLN.  NRLN Chapters are supported by a portion of contributions made by Chapter members. For individual contributions to the NRLN go to Either click on the link to printout the contributions form and mail it with a check or click on the link to make a credit card contribution.

All AREF revenue comes from individual tax-deductible donations. A donation to the AREF may be made by going to the AREF website at and clicking on the “Donations” tab.

The NRLN annual solicitation to NRLN Villages Chapter members will be in late January 2017.  However, anyone can make voluntary non-deductible contributions to the NRLN or tax-deductible donations to the AREF at any time. 

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