President Trump “Protecting” Seniors, Really?

For Immediate Release

The following statement was issued by Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, regarding President Trump’s anticipated remarks later today about “taking care of seniors.”

“We are on the eve of the May 1 start of Older Americans Month and seniors are more at risk for their health and economic security than they have been in decades.

“The CDC’s national shelter in place recommendations expire today, putting millions of seniors further at risk. We remain in the midst of a COVID-19 pandemic. So far, over half of ICU admissions and 80 percent of deaths from COVID-19 have been among people aged sixty-five and over. That is outrageous and it is unacceptable to end shelter in place without scientific justification.

“The Trump Administration has been asleep at the switch which has led to avoidable illnesses and  premature deaths of older Americans. Instead, President Trump has used this crisis as a pretense for weakening the retirement and health care seniors have earned over a lifetime. The incessant calls for cutting the payroll tax, the foundation of Social Security, is but one example.

“A president who protects seniors would require immediate, universal testing of nursing home residents and staff, like Maryland Governor Larry Hogan did yesterday ;

“A president who protects seniors would require OSHA to issue guidelines and emergency regulations to protect nursing home employees and residents who are most vulnerable from COVID-19 from contracting the disease;

“A president who protects seniors would require all nursing homes and residential care facilities to report and release the number of COVID-19 cases and fatalities in their facility daily;

“A president who protects seniors would not be trying to shield nursing homes from lawsuits filed by families whose loved ones died or were injured due to unsafe practices during the pandemic;

“A president who protects seniors would require that every nursing home increase, not relax, requirements for safety inspections during a pandemic;

“A president who protects seniors would not oppose voting by mail and would not force them to leave their homes, often while under a shelter in place order, and risk infection to cast their ballots;

“A president who protects seniors would move to prevent drug corporations from profiteering from COVID-19 treatments or vaccines;

“A president who protects seniors would have acted to lower drug prices. Just in 2020, the average price increase for prescription drugs is 5% . Instead of taking strong action to rein in pharmaceutical corporations, President Trump promised to veto H.R. 3, a bill passed by the House of Representatives requiring Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices and apply those lower prices to the private sector. That bill also caps out-of-pocket spending for Medicare beneficiaries;

“A president who protects seniors would not have issued a budget to cut $845 billion from Medicare over 10 years , and told allies that gutting Medicare could be a good ‘second-term project’;

“A president who protects seniors would not seek to undermine Social Security by eliminating the payroll tax, Social Security’s dedicated funding stream , which threatens the earned benefits of current and future retirees –  all Americans will lose the bedrock of their retirement;

“A president who protects seniors would expand Social Security and increase benefits by eliminating the cap on earnings subject to the Social Security payroll tax so that the wealthiest Americans would pay their fair share into the system;

“A president who protects seniors would not tell a business cable news reporter that ‘Social Security and Medicare Cuts Will Be On the Table at the End of This Year ’;

“A president who protects seniors would not be gutting the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which provides free annual wellness checks and screenings and drug coverage for individuals who fall in the doughnut hole. The ACA also provides critical protections for people with pre-existing health conditions; at least 25% of people 50-64 years old have one or more pre-existing conditions;

“May is Older Americans Month. What older Americans would like to hear later today is that he will reverse course and protect their health and retirement security, but we are not hopeful.”

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Mr. Fiesta is available for interviews.

Contact: David Blank, dblank@retiredamericans.org

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