Two actions, a joint House Resolution and a bill, start the assault on America’s aging population.
First, as a step in changing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), HR 708 would permit the reinstatement of “risk rates”. These are actuarial justifications for charging some people higher rates than others. HR 708 is an “Age Tax” that lets insurance companies charge us more as we get older (which ought to be a very good thing!) without any other consideration.
An “Age Tax” presumes that every older person is a burden on the system which, in this day and age of careful prevention and healthy ways of life, is not remotely accurate. Such a presumption opens the door to restoring the ban on coverage for pre-existing conditions. These aspects of health coverage denial and unaffordability were eliminated from ACA for very good reasons. They put health care financially out of the reach of older people and let insurance companies “cherry pick” only the healthy to cover.
We need you to contact both your Representative and your two Senators to stop the “Age Tax” now!
The second issue, HJR 66, attacks a program we worked to obtain in CA – California Secure Choice. This program, passed last year, enrolls employees of any business that has no retirement plan into Secure Choice. Unless employees opt out, they will have an automatic deduction of 3% of their earnings put into the state Public Employee Retirement System pool of investments so that upon retirement they will have a nest egg to supplement their Social Security.
California Secure Care and similar programs offer congregations and faith organizations a way of helping their staff and clergy obtain pension coverage when they otherwise cannot afford to do so. This is a great boon to us as well as to the fast food workers, cleaners, hotel housekeepers, and every other low-wage employee or those working for impoverished organizations. Retirement security just became real!
No one is forced to participate if they choose not to do so; loans for emergencies may be withdrawn during the pre-retirement years and repaid on very easy terms, and participants will have the safety and security of the PERS fund to protect their pensions just as state workers do now. This is at no cost to either the employer or to taxpayers.
But Congress is dead set against this plan, now in effect in 6 states and in preparation within 19 more. It does erode private retirement plan dominance, a good thing for working people if not for those plans. Employers always have the option of setting up their own traditional plans, but for those who cannot or do not, employees are automatically covered. Protecting investors not working people is behind this joint resolution.
Please contact your Senators and ask them to vote against HJR 66 and permit working people the option of participating in their state’s retirement system.
Are your representatives and Senators already on your side? Let them hear anyway! They need numbers to hold up to opposition to make clear that the weight of public opinion is on our side!
Please take advantage of the Congressional break this coming week, February 18-25 to contact your federal legislators in the district. To find their local contact information, please go to our site: http://www.churchimpact.org/take-action.html
We have a real chance to protect two programs we use, health and retirement, but we must act now to make sure these bills do not pass.
Raise your voice! Make a difference!