PHOENIX — Arizona seniors and retirees joined a press call to discuss how Donald Trump’s failed leadership has hurt older Arizonans, including his mismanagement of the pandemic and attacks on Social Security and Medicare.
During the call, President of AFSCME Arizona Retirees Roman Ulman, Vietnam Veteran Vic Peterson, Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans President Saundra Cole, and cancer patient Fred Barlam outlined what’s at stake for Arizona seniors in this election and encouraged Arizonans to make a plan to vote.
President of AFSCME Arizona Retirees Roman Ulman: “My family has a long history of having pre-existing conditions and medical complications. If Donald Trump has his way, insurance companies would continue to deny us coverage or hike our premiums. Our insurance previously refused to pay for my wife’s breast cancer treatments because they said it was ‘preventative.’ That’s outrageous. Thankfully, we haven’t had that problem anymore once we get on Medicare. But without that kind of coverage, I don’t know what my family and I would do. And it underscores the importance of having strong health care protections and protections for pre-existing conditions. Coverage that Trumps want to do away with. Trump is threatening the viability of Medicare with his payroll tax suspension by cutting off the main source of funding to the programs, which he said he may extend further if he wins reelection.”
“My brother’s dying words to me were, ‘You have great health care and the kind of doctors, nurses, and support I didn’t have — so now I am going to die. I need you to keep fighting so everyone has great health care protections.’ So now, I am fighting… for him, for you, and for all of us.
“For months now, we here in Arizona have said that health care is on the ballot this November — and that is even more true today than it was six months ago when this pandemic began.”
Vietnam Veteran Vic Peterson: “From the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Trump has denied the reality of the crisis and never took action to stop the spread. He should have taken action eight months ago, but he didn’t act on it. He’s been slow in his response and continues to say it’s going to go away, despite over 200,000 people dying. … There are so many people, including seniors, whose lives could have been saved if he acted sooner. He was slow in getting PPE to the states and to mandating masks. He could have saved lives.”
Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans President Saundra Cole: “Seniors have had a bad enough year as it is. 80% of the people who have died from the coronavirus are over 65 years old. Here we are afraid to go out of our homes, and then Trump decides to go after our livelihoods by targeting the payroll taxes that fund Social Security and Medicare. … Trump has said that if he is reelected, there will be no money coming out for Social Security and Medicare if they make the payroll tax deduction holiday permanent. That means that, if you are on Social Security Insurance, there will be no money in the fund by the middle of next year. … Our livelihoods are dependent on this election. This president and his whole administration wants to get rid of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. We have to fight for it together. Please vote like our livelihoods depend on it, because as seniors, it does this time.”
Cancer patient Fred Barlam: “Seniors have been hit the hardest by Trump’s failure to confront and control the coronavirus pandemic. We know better than to trust him again. In April, Trump promised older Americans that his administration was taking ‘unprecedented steps’ to protect seniors from the coronavirus crisis. That turned out to be a lie. … Trump failed to protect seniors and nursing home residents from the pandemic. He misled seniors about the risk of coronavirus, jeopardizing their health. He ignored experts, repeatedly claimed that the virus would “disappear,” and rushed to reopen the country without the necessary safety measures — all for his own political gain. And he failed to address PPE and testing supply shortages in nursing homes, leaving the most vulnerable among us at greater risk to the virus. … Seniors know better than to trust Trump again.”