RPEC Weekly Newsflash, July 28, 2023
Register Today – RPEC Speakers’ Series Featuring Congresswoman Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, August 2, 2:30-3:30 PM
Last chance to register for RPEC’s first virtual Speakers’ Series: Congresswoman Marie Gluesenkamp Perez Discusses Threats to Medicare & Social Security. Congresswoman Gluesenkamp Perez represents Washington’s 3rd Congressional District (the southernmost portion of Western Washington including Lewis, Pacific, Wahkiakum, Cowlitz, Clark, and Skamania counties). While new to Congress as of January 2023, Congresswoman Gluesenkamp Perez is quickly earning a reputation for her ability to work effectively on the bipartisan issues prioritized by RPEC members. Her presentation will be followed by a Q & A period.
State Treasurer Hosting Retirement Security Town Halls
State Treasurer Mike Pellicciotti is hosting retirement security town halls across the state to raise awareness about challenges that current and future retirees face. These town halls will be an opportunity to share ideas and hear what work is on the horizon that could ensure that all Washingtonians have equitable access to long-term retirement security.
Joining Treasurer Pellicciotti will be guest panelists April Sims, President of the Washington State Labor Council; Aaron Keating, Managing Director at Economic Opportunity Institute; and Cathleen MacCaul, Advocacy Director at AARP Washington. Members of the public are invited to attend and participate in the conversations.
RPEC Featured on Mission Nonprofit
Each month, Thurston Community Media’s (TCMedia) Mission Nonprofit connects with local organizations and agencies that are making positive impacts in our communities. During the month of August, RPEC will be featured on Thurston Community Media’s Mission Nonprofit show. The show will be recorded on July 31, and will feature RPEC President Clair Olivers and RPEC Political Action Committee Chair Bev Hermanson, who will discuss items such as how to join, the benefits of membership, our proven legislative track record, and legislative issues currently facing us in the state and federally.
Here is how to watch locally – Mission Nonprofit will feature RPEC the entire month of August on TCMedia channel 77 (local programming channel with most Thurston County cable providers) with the following air times:
- 6:00pm on Tuesdays
- 7:30pm on Thursdays
- 12:00pm on Fridays
- 10:00am and 6:30pm Saturdays
- 4:30pm on Sundays
The show is also available on-demand through the Thurston Community Media website (TCMedia.org) or through their app on iPhone or Android, and also on Roku, AppleTV and Firestick.
It can be viewed on YouTube at @ThurstonCommunityMedia, or specifically through the playlist, Mission Nonprofit YouTube Playlist. Once the show is published to YouTube, we will also provide a link on the RPEC website.
If you prefer to listen to the podcast, it is available on Spotify, Apple iTunes, iHeart radio, etc.; just search for TCMedia Mission Nonprofit.
A transcript will be printed later as an article on the Thurston Talk website (ThurstonTalk.com). We will provide more information in future editions of our NewsFlash as well as on our website when that article is published.
This opportunity provides great exposure for RPEC to inform the community as to who we are and what we do as an advocacy organization. Please take a moment and try to listen or watch on one of the available mediums listed above.
58th Anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid, July 30
On July 30, 1965, legislation that established Medicare and Medicaid was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson. These programs have protected and saved the lives of seniors and people with disabilities for nearly six decades. This year, labor unions across the nation have organized events in celebration of Medicare’s 58th anniversary to shine a light on the existential threat to Medicare posed by Medicare Advantage (MA) plans.
Despite prior authorizations, delays, and high, unjustified denial rates, Medicare Advantage plans are growing in popularity due to their low premiums. MA insurers profit from enrollments and even more so from enrollees with extensive health concerns, who often are not given the medical treatment they need. A conservative analysis in 2023 estimated that MA insurers overbilled the Federal Government by between $12 to $25 billion, but USC Schaeffer Center researchers warn that these overpayments now exceed $75 billion annually.
The 2022 Convention of RPEC passed a resolution that supports the “Social Security 2100: A Sacred Trust” Act and asks that all of our congressional delegations support this vital piece of legislation. Additionally, a resolution was approved unanimously at the Washington State Labor Council convention in July that opposes Medicare privatization and urges federal legislators and the Biden Administration to “Level the Playing Field” to increase healthcare equity and support an affordable Traditional Medicare system with improved benefits and accessibility for seniors and disabled beneficiaries.
This issue remains a top tier legislative priority of RPEC. In the coming months, members may be called upon to wield their strength and determination and urge federal legislators to support seniors and those with disabilities by protecting and expanding Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, and to prevent their privatization.
RPEC Political Action Committee Looks Ahead to 2024
The 2024 elections are only a year away and the RPEC Political Action Committee (PAC) needs your support. As a retired public employee, your retirement security is in the hands of elected officials at the state level. You rely on the State Legislature to make responsible decisions when it comes to funding your pension and benefits. In many ways, your fate is in their hands. But, once every two Novembers, the tables turn.
The mission of the RPEC PAC is to elect pro-retiree candidates to the State Legislature and to statewide office. By monitoring the voting records of current elected officials and interviewing new candidates, the RPEC PAC identifies and endorses candidates who are committed to protecting our retirement security. But to help our candidates win, we must be able to provide financial support to their campaigns.
Last year, RPEC members made it clear that retirees are serious about political action. Our PAC income tripled, we succeeded in electing many pro-retiree candidates, and that success translated into major legislative victories in the 2023 Legislative Session. For the first time ever, the RPEC PAC is among the top 100 best-funded political action committees regulated by the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission. We’re also the top retiree-focused political action committee in the state. But to compete in Olympia, we must go toe-to-toe with some of the wealthiest corporations in the world. Last year, Amazon, Microsoft, T-Mobile, and Boeing spent over $823,000 on political action at the state level. If we want to accomplish our goals, including protecting and restoring cost-of-living adjustments for all retirees and increasing state funding for health insurance plans offered by the Public Employees Benefits Board (PEBB), we must up our game.
This week, you likely received a letter asking you to contribute to the RPEC PAC. Currently, only 5% of RPEC members contribute. If every member gave only $1 per month, we would be among the most formidable political action committees in the state. This mailing went to all members who contribute less than $5 per month. If you didn’t receive the mailing and would like to contribute or change your existing contribution amount, you can do so with this form. Checks made out to “RPEC PAC” can also be mailed to 906 Columbia St SW Ste. 501, Olympia, WA 98501. Only RPEC members can contribute to the RPEC PAC.
If you have any questions about the RPEC PAC, please reach out to RPEC Government Affairs Coordinator Emmett Mills at firstname.lastname@example.org or (360) 352-8262 ext. 103.
Let’s work together to protect our retirement security by sending pro-retiree candidates to Olympia.
AFSCME Advantage College Benefit
Starting with the Fall 2023 semester, the Free College Benefit will be shifting to a different model. The college benefit is through a partnership with both Eastern Gateway Community College (EGCC) and Central State University (CSU) and previously provided members and their families with access to free coursework to earn a degree. Given the results of recent negotiations with the U.S. Dept. of Education, EGCC and CSU can no longer offer free tuition through the Free College Program. EGCC is moving toward a new, reduced tuition model providing in-state and out-of-state students with comparable and low-cost credit hours. Central State University offers low-cost debt-free options for students to complete their college studies through a combination of need-based and merit-based awards to offset out-of-pocket costs.
If you or a family member are taking on a normal workload of course credits and are Pell-eligible, you would pay no out-of-pocket costs for tuition with EGCC.
These programs are accessible not only to you, but to members of your family as well. You and your family can capitalize on this opportunity to earn an education at an affordable cost!
Eastern Gateway Community College low-cost program for earning an Associate Degree https://www.unionplus.org/benefits/education/associate-degree-programs
Central State Global Union Program for earning a Bachelor’s Degree
Please refer to our calendar page for more information about each event, including links to Zoom meetings, if available.
- August 2 – RPEC Speaker’s Series, Congresswoman Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (2:30 pm)
- August 4 – Monthly Legislative Update Call (2:00 pm)
- August 10 – Healthcare Workgroup (3:30 pm)
- August 21 – Senior Lobby (10:00 am)
- August 22 – Executive Board Meeting (10:45 am)
- August 24 – Healthcare Workgroup Meeting (3:30 pm)
- September 1 – Monthly Legislative Update Call (2:00 pm)
- September 4 – Council Office Closed, Labor Day
- September 8 – Political Action Committee Meeting (10:00 am)