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SOUTH CHARLESTON – West Virginia retirees joined local and state officials today in celebrating the 50th anniversary of Medicare in an event hosted by the West Virginia Alliance for Retired Americans (WVARA).

“This is a joyful day for the seniors of America,” WVARA President Virginia Moles said. “Thanks to Medicare, millions of older Americans are able to enjoy their retirement without medical expenses bankrupting them and their families.

“In this age of shrinking savings and small or nonexistent pensions, Medicare is more important than ever.”


Among the speakers at today’s celebration was West Virginia AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Josh Sword, who noted that in the years leading up to the passage of Medicare in 1965, the national AFL-CIO made universal health care for senior citizens its top priority.

“We are so glad today that our leaders then had the vision to go ‘all in’ on this important program,” Sword said. “We are also glad that even though there have been threats, Medicare still exists and still remains one of the most beneficial and popular government-run programs for our citizens.

“West Virginia AFL-CIO will continue to be this program’s most steadfast supporter, and fight any person or organization that believes taking away benefits from people is the best way to move this country forward.”

Other attendees today included West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, Rick Wilson, Area Director of the American Friends Service Committee, and Chris Chiles, regional coordinator for U.S. Senator Joe Manchin.

“We appreciate our representatives’ support of Medicare,” WVARA President Moles said. “Between common sense reforms like the Medicare Drug Savings Act and the savings from the Affordable Care Act, we can feel confident about the future of Medicare as it celebrates its 50th year. However, as the current inheritors of Medicare and Social Security, we cannot afford to lose our focus. We must be ready to stand up - to preserve and protect these programs, not just for ourselves, but also for our grandchildren, just as our grandparents did for us.”

The West Virginia Alliance for Retired Americans part of a unique national organization that was launched in 2001 by a coalition of AFL-CIO affiliated unions and community-based organizations dedicated to economic and social justice.