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Notes from AARP meeting in Hilo – by Joe Tanaka

May 26, 2011

Pension tax failed much to credit of AARP.

Mr. Joe Tanaka and I (Wayne “Big Dog” Joseph) attended the workshop in Hilo presented by AARP.  The following are the notes taken by Mr. Tanaka and myself and provided to our HSTA-R members for review.  We hope that you find them informative.

There are 150,000 AARP members in the State of Hawai’i and 38 million members worldwide.

AARP works hard at preserving the benefits of retirees and it is then easy to see why they are at odds with Governor Neil Abercrombie, since Neil is hell bent on targeting retirees to close the budget gap in our state.

The governors administration proposed taxing pensions (19 states, including Hawai’i do not tax retirement pensions) and eliminating the state reimbursement for Medicare Plan B.

What the governor fails to say is that when the state actually saves money by forcing its retirees to take Medicare Plan B.

Speaker-Barbara Stanton asked group to express mahalo to all the Hawai’i State senators…100% against pension tax.

The House voted 28-23 to defeat it. It will come up in next session again. Stanton suggested we ask reps how they voted on the measure and why.

Funding for Kupuna Care was the issue for AARP before taxing pensions was on the radar.  Governor Neil Abercrombie released the money quickly for Kupuna care when he took office. 

Elderly care program monies go to provide meals, home visits, medical care, etc. etc. Monies would have lapsed otherwise. One significant question was raised: Why not take a good inventory on the various Kupuna Care programs and prioritize them in order of cost and benefit.  Then make cuts or whatever from there. Answer was that data is too hard to get (which to me (Joe Tanaka) was an excuse than a reason). If done, then the next question would be, how much are we willing to pay for programs that are prove to be critical and worthy? 
  So, financial security is what it’s all about. The tourist tax (TAT) —was less this year so other ways to make up the loss may include the property tax for the counties. Hawai’i  seniors live the longest in the country (81 years on average with women living four years longer than men) so we must be willing to participate in the discussion and other actions that might occur in this arena. 
 
Medicare/Soc Sec. Budget deficit needs to be curtailed. $20 billion goes out without anything to replace it every month. The debt ceiling needs to be set and limited. Various plans to manage deficit in Congress. Obama plan to set ceiling and raise revenues failed. Worst “idea” is Croker-McKaskill bill which has the most drastic cuts across the board. 
 Medicaid is the main source of funding for long-term care in the country. Monies are delivered as block grants or need based grants. AARP is against any cuts in SS or Medicare. Use 1-888-722-8514 to call and urge support of AARP stand. 
 
Social Sec.- Mr. Silva was the last speaker. Theme:”keep it strong, you earned it, protect it”…soc security. There are 76 million baby boomers in the country today; so capping soc. sec. doesn’t make sense. Social security viability is a multi-generational concern. Those paying into the system are very important too; not only we recipients. SS was founded 76 years ago with original intent to form a foundation for retirement; not provide everything.

In Hawai’i, 1 in 7 people receive SS—160,553 retirees, 14,329 children and 8376 spouses. $238 million in S.S. monies enter our state’s economy each year. 
Funding comes from payroll taxes (FICA) taxes paid on benefit dollars, and interest on Trust bonds. There was a 77 billion dollar surplus in 2010. And there’s $2.6 trillion in the Trust fund. Thus, soc. sec. did not cause the deficit; so it should be not be used to lessen deficit. Changes should be directed toward making the system more secure; not less, for our children’s sake. Next generation needs to be helped; they are the ones paying. There are many options for improvement, like paying more, higher age to receive, longer work time for determining benefits, etc. 

Hawai’i cost of living is the highest in the country as we pay, on average 67 percent more than our counterparts on the mainland.  Rent is 50 percent higher, food 50 percent higher, and electricity cost is the highest in the nation.

The average price of staying in a nursing home in Hawai’i is $122,600 per year.  Forty nine percent of our seniors here on the Big Island are forced to seek medical care off island.

Mr. Tanaka and I hope that the above notes from the AARP meeting were helpful to you.  Should you have any questions you can email me of Joe anytime.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Tanya K permalink
    May 26, 2011 11:30 am

    Thanks for all the valuable information.
    Nice way to stay connected.
    Mahalo

  2. Sharon L. Lehman permalink
    May 27, 2011 8:26 am

    Thank you Joe Tanaka and (Big Dog), Wayne Joseph for attending the recent AARP meeting and for providing us with the scary, but informative data gathered there. Please join Joe and Wayne in urging HSTA-R and AARP members to call 1-888-722-8514 in support of the AARP stand against cuts in Social Security or Medicare.
    Mahalo and Aloha,
    Sharon Lehman

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