Dear Retiree or Future Retiree
Although the COVID-19 pandemic has dominated most of 2020 the American Retirees Education Foundation (AREF), the research and education arm of the National Retiree Legislative Network (NRLN), has had a productive year. The AREF hopes that the following actions during 2020 will cause you to renew or make a first-time tax-deductible donation to the AREF. How to make a donation is explained at the end of this letter.
- On February 24, before the impact of the coronavirus was widely understood and Congress was in session, AREF whitepapers were used at the NRLN’s Annual Leadership Conference to brief NRLN members on these issues to take to Capitol Hill to educate and lobby Representatives and Senators:
- Medicare Advantage Plans: Opposed taxpayer subsidies to insurance companies for Medicare Advantage (MA) plans to move toward the privatization of Medicare and pointed out the discrimination of providing special benefits to MA enrollees that are not offered to Original Medicare beneficiaries.
- Reduce Prescription Drug Prices: Advocated Congress should remove the prohibition on Medicare negotiating drug prices and replace it with competitive bidding. End pay-for-delay and other brand name drugmakers’ tactics that obstruct generic drugs from coming to market. Allow importation of safe and less expensive drugs from Canada and other countries that meet FDA quality standards.
- Pension De-risking: Proposals were advocated to protect retirees when employers convert their pension plans to third-party insurance company annuities.
- Mergers, Acquisitions and Spin-offs: Members of Congress were urged to pass legislation to provide protections for retirees when there are corporate mergers, acquisitions and spin-offs.
- The AREF whitepaper on Medicare and Medicare Advantage (MA) plans was rewritten and posted on the www.nrln.org website on June 5, 2020. Some of the “realities” in the whitepaper included:
- Healthcare costs are rising four times faster than the number of new Medicare enrollees.
- After 23 years and over $350 billion in rebates paid to MA plans, their annual payments per enrollee are 103% of enrollees in Original Medicare.
- In 2020, $35 billion of taxpayer dollars will be spent on rebate payments to insurance companies.
- The Medicare Advantage Quality Bonus Plan (QBP) is used to divert federal taxpayer dollars to insurance companies. MedPAC has reported to Congress that QBP is unprofessionally derived and administered. The HHS Inspector General has stated that QBP provides “wrong or improper payments.”
- The AREF whitepaper on the need to reduce the price of prescription drugs was updated and posted on the www.nrln.org website on October 1, 2020. Some of the new information included:
- The latest prescription drug bills introduced in Congress that the NRLN supports.
- The executive orders to lower the cost of prescription drugs that include: Importation of safe and less expensive drugs from Canada and other countries that meet FDA standards; Medicare and seniors pay no more for the most-costly Medicare Part B drugs than any economically comparable country; ending a system of kickbacks by Price Benefit Managers (PBMs) and allowing seniors to directly receive these kickbacks as discounts in Medicare Part D.
- Special voluntary contributions by NRLN retiree associations or chapters to the AREF from August – October 2020 will be used to update three whitepapers and research and write a new whitepaper.
- Protecting Retiree Benefits in Bankruptcy: The whitepaper concerns needed statute changes to provide retirees a better chance to protect their pensions and benefits from a former employer.
- Pension Plan Risks in Mergers, Acquisitions and Spin-offs: This whitepaper is used to urge members Congress to pass legislation to provide specific protections for pension plan participants when there are corporate mergers, acquisitions and spin-offs impacting U.S. firms or foreign ownership.
- Protecting Retirees in Defined Benefit Pension Plan Mergers: This whitepaper is used to advocate for passage of legislation to prevent pension plan administrators from unilaterally merging a well-funded pension plan with one or more poorly funded pension plans to avoid funding the lower funded plans. Prior approval would be required from the U.S. Department of Treasury and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.
- New Whitepaper: This whitepaper will be used to advocate legislation to require a pension plan sponsor who voluntarily terminates a pension plan to apply assets to a new pension plan or retirees’ life insurance benefit before any excess pension fund revenues are reverted to the plan sponsor for other uses as permitted
- A three-part video series was launched through the AREF sponsorship with Bill Kadereit, AREF Chairman and President and NRLN President, as the on-camera person.
- The January 8, 2020 video focused on the purpose of the NRLN, provided information that is available on the NRLN website and showed the website’s primary navigation icons.
- The February 8, 2020 video was What Caused the Medicare Financial Crisis.
- The February 17, 2020 video was Medicare Privatization, A Bait and Switch Failure! by current law.
- In September 2020, the AREF began producing videos and podcasts on retirement and legislative issues.
- Episode #1 on September 18 was a podcast which described the organizational structure of the NRLN and its work in Washington, DC.
- Episode #2 on September 22 was a video/podcast on History of Medicare Privatization & Results After 23 Years.
- Episode #3 on September 30 was a video/podcast on Medicare A-D Revenue, MA Plan Rebates/Market Share & Medicare 10 yr. Budget
- Episodes #4 and #5 on October 22 were videos/podcasts on Steps to Better Medicare Choices during the October 15 – December 7 Medicare and Medicare Advantage enrollment period.
- Episode #6 and #7 on Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage were posted in early November.
- Additional video/podcast episodes will continue to be produced in 2020 and 2021.
Please make a tax-deductible donation to the AREF by completing the form below and mail a check to the AREF in the enclosed envelope. Or, make an online AREF donation with your credit card at: www.seniorsaref.org. Click on the “Donations” tab, scroll down to the webpage and click the “Donate” icon.
The AREF’s IRS EIN number is 47-2146998. IRA requested or Required Minimum Distributions, bequests and grants from public and private foundations may require other documents that are available at www.seniorsAREF.org under the “Tax-Deductible Information” tab. If you are interested in including the AREF in a will or trust, see your tax advisor. You may send an email to me at: chairman@seniorsAREF.org, or call AREF at: 866-360-7197 for other information.
Bill Kadereit, AREF Chairman and President and NRLN President