NRLN President Asks, With Friends
Who Needs Enemies?
Dec. 2, 2003) The National
Retirees Legislative Network (NRLN) strongly criticized recent
passage of the Medicare Prescription Drug bill and the support it
was given by the AARP (American Association of Retired People). The
NRLN is a Washington-based grassroots coalition of retiree and older
worker organizations dedicated to protecting the pension and health
benefits of their members.
estimate by officials of the Congressional Budget Office, NRLN
President Jim Norby points out that more than a third of seniors
with employer coverage stand to lose it with passage of the
prescription drug benefit legislation. As we pointed out when we
opposed this legislation last summer, employers will react to this
legislation by scaling back their drug coverage for retirees, Norby
In spite of
provisions in the legislation aimed at preventing companies from
dropping their retirees coverage, the temptation to shed their
retiree prescription drug insurance plans and unload their retirees
on the new but deficient Medicare drug program makes this outcome
inevitable. In our opinion, these enticements are nothing more than
a bribe for big business that represents a multi-billion dollar
taxpayer liability, Norby said.
According to Norby,
thousands of NRLNs 2 million members are ending their AARP
memberships as a result of that organizations support of the
prescription drug legislation. Our NRLN board members are being
overwhelmed by e-mails from people who are madder than hell at the
AARP. Our members who opposed the bill are cutting up their AARP
cards by the thousands to protest the use of their membership fees
to pay for a $7 million campaign endorsing the prescription drug
benefit legislation. With friends like AARP looking after retirees,
who needs enemies, Norby said.
AARPs description of the Medicare drug prescription legislation as
not a perfect bill, has to be the understatement of the year, Norby
said. Among NRLNs objections to the new Medicare prescription drug
benefit legislation are:
It prohibits the government from bargaining over price
with the drug companies and other suppliers.
It places insurmountable obstacles in the path of
re-importing cheaper prescription drugs from Canada.
It leaves a huge coverage gap for the middle class,
which will be outraged as details of the new legislation become
It has the potential to limit options of retirees now
receiving drug coverage through former employers or Medicaid.
It provides only $1 of every $16 spent toward purchasing
drugs seniors otherwise would not have had, with the balance going to
displace spending by the private sector and state Medicaid programs.
Its cost over the next decade, which could reach $1.5
trillion by some estimates, will only add to the funding burden facing
Medicare for which Congress has made no provision.
endorsing this bill, AARP has broken faith with its members and older
Americans in favor of special interests that market insurance and
pharmacy services to its members. According to AARPs annual report,
royalties from these arrangements accounted for more than a third of
the associations $636 million in revenues last year, which we believe
is a conflict of interest, Norby said.
Were seeing an incredible
deterioration in the way older Americans and retirees are being
treated today. You cant pick up the newspaper that you dont find an
account of someone pilfering dollars from their pension trust fund, or
else lying about their corporate earnings. At NRLN, were addressing
these issues head on and we welcome support from AARP members and
others who share our views and commitment to retirees across the
country, Norby added. To learn more about NRLN and its objectives,
visit the associations Web site at
Based in Washington, D.C.,
NRLN represents nearly 2 million retirees from Association of US WEST
Retirees, Association of BellTel Retirees, Association of Prudential
Retirees, Monsanto Retirees Association, along with groups from
Boeing, GE, GM, IBM, Johns Manville, Lucent, AT&T, Portland Electric
(Enron), SNET, Western Union, Raytheon, Continental Tire and others.
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