Kathleen Kennedy Townsend Keynote Speaker at 48th Annual COPE Dinner

The 2018 Cincinnati AFL-CIO COPE Dinner is sizing up to be a momentous event with Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, the eldest child of the late U.S. Senator and Attorney General, Robert F. Kennedy as special guest and Keynote Speaker. Another featured guest will be Betty Sutton, former U.S. Representative for Ohio’s 13th congressional district and Richard Cordray’s running mate in the 2018 Ohio Governor’s race. We will also be sharing a video message prepared especially for us from U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren. And finally, lending her immense vocal talents to our evening is twice EMMY nominated, award winning Jazz vocalist Kathy Wade. The 2018 event, “Out of the Shadows and Into the Light…A Celebration of Inclusion and Empowerment!” is an acknowledgment and recognition for the many courageous champions answering the call to fight for and defend hard-working families in 2018. It will be epic!

We are very excited to have Kathleen Kennedy Townsend as our Keynote Speaker. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend is Director, Retirement Security at the Economic Policy Institute. She Founded the Center for Retirement Security at Georgetown University where she is a Research Professor.

She has served with distinction in both the private and public arenas.    She was Maryland’s first woman Lt Governor, and  served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the United States.

Prior to serving at the Department of Justice, Ms. Townsend led the fight to make Maryland the first—and only—state to make service a high school graduation requirement.

She has been appointed Special Advisor at the Department of State. She is a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, has taught foreign policy at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Maryland and has been a visiting Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.  In the mid-1980s, she founded the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award.

She Chaired the Institute of Human Virology founded by Dr. Robert Gallo, which treats over 700,000 patients in Africa as part of the PEPFAR program, has chaired the Robert Kennedy Memorial and has been on the Board of Directors of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation.

She has served on a number of boards including the Export-Import Bank, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), the Wilderness Society, the Points of Light Foundation, the National Catholic Reporter and the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, the Baltimore Urban League the Center for American Progress, Lightbridge Corporation  and New Tower Trust. Ms. Townsend is also a member of the Council of Foreign Relations and the Inter-American Dialogue. She is the Vice-Chair of the Future of Science conference held in Venice Italy.

An honors graduate of Harvard University, Ms. Townsend received her law degree from the University of New Mexico where she was a member of the law review. She has received fourteen honorary degrees. Ms. Townsend’s book, Failing America’s Faithful: How Today’s Churches Mixed God with Politics and Lost Their Way has been published by Warner Books in March 2007. 

About The Cincinnati AFL-CIO COpe Dinner 

The COPE Dinner is an important fundraiser for the Committee on Political Education. COPE sponsors voter registration, voter education, candidate screenings and endorsements, Meet-the Candidates Night, sample ballots, Chronicler, and Get-Out-the-Vote activities. 

Contributions to the Cincinnati AFL-CIO COPE are not deductible for income tax purposes. Tickets may be purchased individually, out of general funds or out of political action accounts.

To make your reservation, Please make checks payable to Cincinnati AFL-CIO COPE and send along with your registration to Cincinnati AFL-CIO Labor Council, 1385 Tennessee Avenue – 2nd Floor, Cincinnati, OH 45229. For further information contact Brian Griffin, Cincinnati AFL-CIO Labor Council Director of Communication at info@cincinnatiaflcio.0436361.netsolhost.com.

What Makes You Eligible for Medicare

What Makes You Eligible for Medicare

By RetireMEDiQ

To be eligible for Medicare, there are certain requirements you must meet. You qualify for full Medicare benefits if:

  • You are 65 or older
  • You are a permanent legal resident who has lived in the United States at least five years or are a US Citizen; and
  • You (or your spouse) are eligible for Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board benefits; or
  •  You (or your spouse) are a government employee or retiree who has not paid into Social Security but has paid Medicare payroll taxes while working.

Are There Exceptions to These Requirements?

In some cases, you may be eligible to apply for full Medicare coverage under the age of 65. To qualify for early Medicare coverage, you must meet at least one of the following requirements:

  • You’ve been entitled to Social Security disability benefits for at least 24 consecutive (or non-consecutive) months; or
  • You receive a disability pension from the Railroad Retirement Board and meet certain conditions; or
  • You have Lou Gehrig’s disease, which qualifies you immediately
  • You have permanent kidney failure that requires regular dialysis or a kidney transplant — and you or your spouse has paid Social Security taxes for a certain length of time, depending on your age.

Be Aware of Special Circumstances

You already have Medicaid. If you have Medicaid, you can also enroll in Medicare if you meet the eligibility requirements for both programs (sometimes referred to as dual eligibility). If you have both Medicare and Medicaid, Medicare will act as your primary insurance and Medicaid will be secondary. Through Medicaid, you may be eligible to receive financial assistance for your prescription drug costs and possibly even your Part B premiums.

You live outside of the US or in Puerto Rico. If you live outside the US, even if you are a US citizen, Medicare will likely not provide coverage to you. If you live in Puerto Rico and are receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board benefits, you can receive Medicare benefits. You will automatically be enrolled in Part A, but you will probably have to manually enroll in Part B, if you wish to receive it.

You have or plan to get COBRA. If you are trying to decide between getting COBRA or Medicare, we understand how confusing this decision process can be. We strongly encourage you to contact one of our Benefit Advisors to discuss your situation and get their expert advice on what to do. If you already have COBRA and aren’t sure what to do when you turn 65, it may make most sense for you to plan to enroll in Medicare during your Initial Enrollment Period. We encourage you to contact one of our Benefit Advisors to discuss the details of your situation and receive personalized advice on what is the ideal choice for you.

How other benefits (Social Security, Railroad Retirement Board, Veterans Affairs, TRICARE, etc.) could impact your Medicare benefits. If you receive retirement benefits from another source, Medicare may or may not work with those benefits. We encourage you to contact one of our Benefit Advisors to find out more about how Medicare may work with your benefits and what the right steps are for you.

How to know if you will pay for Part A or receive it premium free. Part A includes a monthly premium, however most people do not have to pay this. You can get “premium-free” Part A if you or your spouse paid Medicare taxes while working for at least 10 years (40 quarters). If you do not qualify for premium-free Part A, the monthly premium in 2018 is $422.

When you do/don’t need to enroll in Medicare Part A and/or Part B. Many retirees find that they automatically receive Medicare Part A and Part B benefits when they first become eligible for Medicare at age 65. However, there are some instances where you may have to manually sign up for Medicare benefits or even manually delay them to avoid penalties.You may receive Medicare Part A and/or Part B benefits automatically if:

  • You are already receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board benefits.
  • You are under 65 and have a disability.
  • You have ALS (also called Lou Gehrig’s disease).

Expert tip: If you are automatically enrolled, you will receive your red, white & blue Medicare card in the mail 3 months before you turn 65 or during your 25th month of disability.

You may need to manually enroll in Part A or Part B if:

  • You aren’t receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board Benefits (due to employment or other circumstances)
  •  You qualify for Medicare due to End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD)

We strongly encourage you to contact one of our advisors to discuss your situation and ensure you know what to expect for your Medicare Part A and Part B eligibility. If you miss your chance to enroll in these benefits, or if you plan to continue working and fail to delay them, you could incur penalties that add unnecessary expense and stay with you for life.

How Medicare works with your employer insurance. When you have Medicare coverage as well as employer coverage, your plans are subject to “coordination of benefits” rules. Various factors contribute to who pays first for your medical expense, like the size of your employer. For more information, visit Medicare.gov for specific scenarios or call us to talk about your specific situation with one of our expert advisors.

How Can I Be Sure That I am Eligible?

If you want to do a quick check on your eligibility and see what your premium might cost, Medicare.gov offers a calculator.

A note from our Benefit Advisors: We know this is confusing! If you have questions, we are here to provide answers. Call us at 1-877-291-4110 or www.retiremediq.com/aflcio.

How are Social Security and Medicare Related?

By RetireMEDiQ 

Because of the close relationship between Medicare and Social Security, people often get these two programs confused. Although there are connections between Medicare and Social Security, they are actually two separate government programs. Working with Medicare on a daily basis gives us perspective on the relationship between Social Security and Medicare that we want to share with you! 

Medicare vs. Social Security 

Medicare: government-funded health coverage for people over the age of 65, those with certain chronic disabilities and individuals with End Stage Renal Disease. 

Social Security: a government pension for people over the age of 62 and those with chronic disabilities. 

How Are Medicare and Social Security Related? 

Many recipients of Medicare are also eligible to receive Social Security benefits and vice versa. In addition to eligibility, there are a few other ways that Medicare and Social Security overlap. 

Enrollment: Both programs run initial enrollment through the Social Security Administration. When you first enroll in a Medicare plan or if you need to defer your Medicare coverage (for example, to go back onto an employer plan), you would do so through the Social Security Administration. 

Premiums: Social Security pension amounts are factored into annual Medicare premium increases. The most common payment method for the Part B premium is through automatic deductions from a Social Security pension. 

Eligibility: If an individual collects Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, they become eligible for and are automatically enrolled in Medicare. Similarly, if a person is collecting Social Security when they turn 65, they are automatically enrolled onto Medicare (they have the option to defer Medicare if they have other coverage). 

Additional Assistance: Medicare offers multiple levels of assistance to those on Medicare. These programs help cover expenses such as premiums and prescription costs. Applicants must contact the Social Security Administration in order to apply. 

If you have any questions regarding the relationship between Medicare and Social Security, please contact us at 1-877-291-4110 or www.retiremediq.com/aflcio

COPE 2018 Special Guest Kathleen Kennedy Townsend

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend is Director of the Retirement Security at the Economic Policy Institute. She Founded the Center for Retirement Security at Georgetown University where she is a Research Professor.

She has served with distinction in both the private and public arenas. She was Maryland’s first woman Lt Governor, and served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the United States.

Prior to serving at the Department of Justice, Ms. Townsend led the fight to make Maryland the first—and only—state to make service a high school graduation requirement.

She has been appointed Special Advisor at the Department of State. She is a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, has taught foreign policy at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Maryland and has been a visiting Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. In the mid-1980s, she founded the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award.

She Chaired the Institute of Human Virology founded by Dr. Robert Gallo, which treats over 700,000 patients in Africa as part of the PEPFAR program, has chaired the Robert Kennedy Memorial and has been on the Board of Directors of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation.

She has served on a number of boards including the Export-Import Bank, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), the Wilderness Society, the Points of Light Foundation, the National Catholic Reporter and the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, the Baltimore Urban League the Center for American Progress, Lightbridge Corporation and New Tower Trust. Ms. Townsend is also a member of the Council of Foreign Relations and the Inter-American Dialogue. She is the Vice-Chair of the Future of Science conference held in Venice Italy.

An honors graduate of Harvard University, Ms. Townsend received her law degree from the University of New Mexico where she was a member of the law review. She has received fourteen honorary degrees. Ms. Townsend’s book, Failing America’s Faithful: How Today’s Churches Mixed God with Politics and Lost Their Way has been published by Warner Books in March 2007.

The Future of the VA is at Stake

Pending legislation on Capitol Hill could lead to a total dismantling and privatization of the health care system our veterans want and need.

We need you to pick up the phone and call your lawmaker at 833-480-1637 and tell them you strongly oppose to the VA MISSION Act (S. 2372), which is moving through Congress and could lead to the privatization of the VA.

The federal union, AFGE, has proposed 7 changes that would protect the future of the VA health care system – including keeping essential primary care services within the VA. Yet none of these changes were made in Congress. Every dollar spent on privatized care deprives our veterans of the specialized care offered in our VAs – specialized care that saves their lives and helps veterans heal faster.

The VA MISSION Act (S. 2372)

• The legislation gives a VA Secretary the authority to privatize and dismantle broad swaths of the VA health care system;
• The legislation gives the next VA Secretary broad authority to dismantle the VA at a time when the VA faces intense political pressure to pursue privatization;
• The legislation will devastate communities by closures of vibrant VA medical centers;
• The legislation will lead to privatization at the expense of full-staffing and resources needed for VA’s in-house operations.

We need you to pick up the phone and call your lawmaker at 833-480-1637 and tell them you strongly oppose the VA MISSION Act (S. 2372), which is moving through Congress and could lead to the privatization of the VA.

In Solidarity,

Tim
—————-
Tim Burga, President
Ohio AFL-CIO

How Higher Education Is Eating Its Young

Part I in a series
By: John Zurick
Founder/President, Zurick Artificial Intelligence, LLC

 

It was my privilege recently to attend a lecture/demonstration in Florida by naturalist, Otter John. Included in the menagerie of his wild companions was a three-year-old alligator, who leveled icy eyes at his captive audience as Otter John paraded him around the meeting room, offering each of us a close-up stare-down. “There are over one-and-a-quarter-million alligators living in Florida,” Otter John reported as he held the three-foot gator out as if it were a cuddly toddler. “There would be considerably more of these cute little gators,” he continued, “except that more are eaten before reaching full size than survive…by bigger gators.” Alligators eat their young! Who knew?!

I lay awake that night thinking how much alligators eating their young is like higher education in America. In fact, in some ways, it might be better to be a young alligator victim than a higher education victim. A young alligator’s end comes quickly. The capture and drowning are sudden. The bigger gator makes a mighty chomp, wrestles the youngster to the bottom of a body of water in the famous gator “death roll,” chomps mightily on the little one a couple more times and it’s over for the precious devils.

Higher education, on the other hand, drowns its victims slowly, in debt and despair, over lifetimes. The trap is set long before college with the false promise, often referred to as, The American Dream, i.e. America is the land of opportunity. And college is your ticket to financial and social upward mobility. Implicit in this promise is the notion that anyone who goes to college can realize their dreams of a sustainable, purposeful, fulfilling life. In the post-World War II GI Bill era, this promise actually delivered. Higher education was accessible and affordable, with exponential returns on a student’s investments of time and money. Not so now.

Finish high school with moderate-to-high academic achievement and you can find multiple colleges that will take you. Or finish high school with low passing grades, or get your GED, and there’s still a school for you. If you can’t find a bona fide college, community college or university that accepts you, no worries. A glut of for-profit schools will take just about anybody. Can’t afford to pay for college? (Few people can these days.) Not a problem. Fill out a couple forms. And with your acceptance, your school will send you a financial aid plan showing you how to cover the costs, including how to cover some, most, or all of the costs with loans. It’s a bait and switch for all but the most privileged and savvy applicants. For most borrowers, and at far too many schools, student loan debt is their ticket on a train running backwards to financial and social subordination.

Today three out of four students borrow to meet their higher education costs. Those who rack up the most debt, are often the best off, relatively. Their debt is higher because they are in 2 the overall 50% of two-year and four-year students who stay in school and finish their degrees on time. The other 50% of today’s college students leave school before their two years or four years are up. The students who drop out find themselves with debt and in a workforce that offers no advantage for people whose resumes read, “some college.”

The borrowers with degrees have a reasonable chance of finding salaried jobs that pay a living wage. Yet over 70% of borrowers with degrees and fulltime jobs are burdened by their debt.

Numerous studies confirm that tens-of-millions of borrowers with degrees are having trouble making ends meet. They are having trouble affording a car. They are delaying buying a house. They are even having difficulties meeting the daily necessities of food, clothing and shelter. They are delaying saving money, getting married and starting a family. They are unable to afford to work within their intended career paths. They are unable to afford to work in the public sector.

Graduate degrees are unaffordable. And they are not able to start new businesses. These are the borrowers with the jobs made possible by finishing their degrees. The borrowers who drop out before finishing their degrees have less debt. But with no degree beyond a high school diploma, their employment opportunities are severely limited, and the burden of their debt is onerous. Multiple hourly wage jobs are required to make their loan payments, If they have children or other dependents, their student loan debt can be crushing.

The facts are stunning.

  • Tuition has been rising at twice the rate of inflation for over twenty years.
  • Total student loan debt is $1.5 trillion: an increase of more than 150% over that past ten years; totaling 60% more than all credit card debt in America; second only to home mortgage debt.
  • Number of student loan borrowers with outstanding loans: 44,500,000…one in every four American adults, two-thirds of all Millennials.
  • Average debt upon graduation: $37,000.
  • Number of non-borrowers who are helping a family member or friend make payments: 8,360,000.
  • Amount of student loans in default: $268 billion…more than the $208 billion in sub-prime mortgage defaults in 2007 at the collapse of the housing market.
  • Average new student loan defaults per day: 3,000; one-third of borrowers in default owed less than $10,000.
  • Borrowers with loans in deferment: 16,700,000.
  • More people per capita over the age of 25 are living at home with their parents than at any time over the past 135 years.

The truth is personal and painful. The pursuit of higher education has become a scourge on millions of Americans. Lifelong consequences are triggered by decisions too often made blithely. Hopeful young people take on debt, not knowing the cost, believing higher education is a surefire path to easy repayment and a life of prosperity.

When payments come due and reality sets in, most borrowers turn first to their loan servicers, the companies that send out the bills, collect the payments, and address borrowers’ questions/concerns/cries for help. With over 44 million borrowers, 75 million loans, 3,000 loan defaults per day, and an opaque web of loan structures, repayment plans, deferral and forbearance options, as well as variable penalties for delinquencies and defaults, at any given time thousands of borrowers are looking for help. The demand on the servicers and collection agencies for repayment strategies and problem-solving is beyond their capacity to meet effectively.

Borrower options for self-guided, internet-based problem solving are limited, often user unfriendly, and frequently predatory. The backstop to the demand for borrower support is a loan servicer or collection agency telephone call center. Wait times prevail. Telephone agent knowledge is limited, and in many cases, biased to favor the financial interests of the servicers and collection agencies the agents represent. Borrowers can be led into “solutions” that generate higher fee payments to the servicers or debt collectors, but send the borrowers into a vortex of initial low payments and higher interest rates that multiply rather than pay down the debt.

How painful is the truth? Working two minimum wage jobs with two kids at home, no degree, defaulted student loans, no credit, garnished wages, tax refunds withheld by the IRS, no idea what to do next… Living at home with your parents because you can’t afford your own housing… Waiting tables on weekends because your salaried day job doesn’t pay enough to make ends meet… Married, over 30, and unable to afford starting a family… Owing student debt twice the amount of your annual salary… Believing that going to college was the biggest mistake you will ever make. The truth is your spirit drowning in debt.

Higher education in America is in an existential crisis.

Overall, higher education costs more and more and is worth less and less. Required humanities curricula no longer qualify graduates for jobs they can happily live on. Tuition increases are out of control. Federal and state governments regularly cut education funding, as if it’s a discretionary use of taxpayer dollars. Alumni donors are funding basketball arenas, and fitness centers with climbing walls and hot tubs, rather than scientific research and academic enrichment. Fortunes are being made by shareholders in for-profit colleges that overpromise, overcharge, and under deliver; they produce the lowest graduation rates and highest default rates in continuing education; and, they derive most of their revenues from federally funded student loans.

This is the truth we all need to acknowledge. Once the world’s model of progressive learning, free thinking and democratic access, higher education in America has become a dysfunctional $1.5 billion industrial complex funded primarily by student debt. The weight of it all is biting the hands that feed it. It’s eating its young.

Coming next: Part II, Saving Continuing Education

John Zurick is a social enterprise builder. Zurick Artificial Intelligence, LLC is the developer of PrestoSolvo® Student Loan Solutions