On October 10, 2018, a bill titled “Know The Lowest Price Act of 2018”, (S.2553) was passed and signed into law. This legislation stops private insurers from using so-called gag orders that “restricts” pharmacies from offering customers the same drug but at a lower price if they paid out-of-pocket. Turns out the insurance prescription drug plans prohibited the pharmacies from alerting the customer about the difference in price, and customers have been overpaying at the pharmacy counter more than 20 percent of the time. As example, an Rx for high blood pressure medication could be $20 with insurance coverage, but only $8.00 out-of-pocket (if the pharmacy were allowed to inform the customer). It should be noted that 25 states had already made these practices illegal. So, while this practice has been stopped, there are other provisions in other contracts that restrict our government from working to obtain the lower price of drugs for seniors, such as the Medicare Part D agreement with the healthcare industry. After the implementation of Medicare Pt D in 2006, seniors have argued that the provision restricting Medicare from negotiating the costs of drugs with the industry should be repealed, as pricing rates for industry drugs are private and not transparent, and billions in profits are made off of seniors enrolled in their Part D plans. Most seniors will remember the bus trips into Canada in years gone by, in order to save money. On that subject, we need new hearings to pass the “Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act”, and effectively demand that the pharmaceutical industry lower the costs of drugs here in the U.S. We look forward to a change in leadership on November 6th, but seniors must continue to pressure Congress, no matter who holds the Majority in 2019. NARVRE will be working with other senior organizations, like the Alliance for Retired Americans (ARA), as we urge our members and retirees to contact Congress and insist they begin to work for their constituents, and not their political party. We continue to encourage all members to introduce yourselves to your Members in Congress, especially if you have a new, fresh face elected to the House or Senate. Let them know you are an active NARVRE member and expect them to protect our earned benefits, such as railroad retirement and Medicare.
Gary Faley, Legislative Director
The bill (HR 6147) that would preserve Amtrak service over the entire current Southwest Chief route has passed out of the Senate and is now headed for a conference committee in the House to reconcile the differences in spending bills from both chambers. If you haven’t called your Representatives in the House, please do so. We need to protect the Amtrak network and the rail jobs that could be adversely affected.
Over the years, we continue to receive different inquiries as to how NARVRE members might assist in our efforts to inform Congress on the existence and operation of the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB). It is unfortunate that to many Congressional offices, for whatever reasons, are confused and/or ignorant to the facts regarding railroads and their employees, and the governing mandates of the Railroad Retirement Act. While it is necessary for NARVRE members to contact Congress on a variety of issues immediately affecting railroad retirees, it is also necessary that we continue to furnish information to our elected officials as they have an inherent responsibility to their railroad constituents back home in their Districts. The point of being involved in NARVRE is to inform Congress as to who we are and what we expect them to protect. We want them to understand some critical facts on the history and structure of the Railroad Retirement System. We want them to know us as active and voting constituents, and also as members of our national retiree association. The work we do as individual constituents is a tool that binds us together as one voice speaking on behalf of all railroad retirees. As NARVRE members, we have our own special interests in protecting our earned retirement benefits which include Medicare and Medicaid, and Social Security where applicable. Hence, the communication with our Representatives in Congress can be a valuable tool and asset in protecting our railroad retirement system and our annuities. The following example is for your review and use. The best advice is to keep it concise and to the point. I have tried to do both in the following example. You might receive a response from an aide in your representative’s office. Tell them to add your name to their email updates from Capitol Hill, and give them any other information on your history as an active constituent and railroad retiree. They need to know you.
Gary Faley, Legis. Dir.
The Honorable John A. Doe United States House of Representatives Washington, D.C. 20515 Dear Rep. Doe,
I am a constituent of yours and reside in City & State. I am a railroad retiree with XX years of service on the XXX Railroad. I am covered under the Railroad Retirement Act and receive my benefits and my retirement annuity through the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board (RRB).
SMART Transportation Division National Legislative Director John Risch addressed the National Association of Retired and Veteran Railway Employees (NARVRE) in Council Bluffs, Iowa, on May 21, touching on the current national political climate and the need for retirees to step up to protect what is rightfully theirs amid renewed attacks on unions.
“What is happening in D.C. is what I call ‘an erosion of civility,'” Risch told attendees at NARVRE’s 41st Biennial Convention at the Hilton Garden Inn. “Add to that erosion the closeness of the numbers in each house of Congress, and you have a keen focus on the next election, not a keen focus on what’s right for our country.”
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August W. “Whitey” Westphal, age 91, of North Ridgeville, passed away on Sunday, March 25, 2018 at the Cleveland Clinic Main Campus following a sudden illness.
NARVRE Staying in Touch with Railroad Retirees
We are indeed pleased to begin our monthly submissions again in the new Facebook effort of NARVRE. Needless to say this new effort to communicate with Railroad Retirees, NARVRE Members or not, will enhance the total membership of our organization. As you are no doubt aware communication is so important to the success of any program which represents a large group of people whether they are young or older. In fact I am so excited when visiting with older retirees and have them point out; “I was watching C-Span and know just what you are talking about”. This makes our job easier too!!
Narvre’s 41st Biennial Convention May 20-22, 2018
An article by Mary David (former National Secretary/Treasurer).