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Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert 9-28-12

Past Statements by Paul Ryan Shed More Light on his Policies Regarding Seniors
A transcript of a speech made in 2005 by Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan has received renewed attention this week, after the national Catholic weekly publication America published an article on his remarks. Ryan, who has long described philosopher Ayn Rand as one of his inspirations, made the speech at the Atlas Society’s 2005 “Celebration of Ayn Rand.” Rand’s 1964 collection of essays is called The Virtue of Selfishness: A new Concept of Egoism.

In his 2005 speech, Ryan took an extremist stance on Social Security and Medicare. He called Social Security and Medicare “collectivist” and “socialistic” and described his plans for privatization. Ryan stated that he supported, “switching these programs— and this is where I’m talking about health care, as well — from a third party or socialist based system to an individually owned, individually pre-funded, individually directed system.” To see the full article and transcript, go to http://bit.ly/Ueopk6.

Alliance Executive Director Edward F. Coyle commented, “These statements by Paul Ryan reinforce that he doesn’t intend to take the proper steps to protect or strengthen Medicare and Social Security, but sees them as a form of Socialism. Yet, Mitt Romney wants him to be his Vice President.” For quotes from Mitt Romney endorsing Paul Ryan's plans, go to http://bit.ly/P1ZL2R.

Early and Absentee Voting is Under Way in 30 States
According to NBC’s First Read (http://nbcnews.to/V02r31), “…voters in 30 states -- including the battleground states of Iowa, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Virginia -- are now casting ballots, either via absentee or early in-person voting.” Yesterday, early in-person voting began in Iowa and Wyoming, while absentee ballots are already being sent to voters requesting them in Alabama, North Dakota, and Illinois. By the end of next week, voters in five more states, including Ohio and Florida, will be on this list.

Many election experts predict that as many as 40% of voters will vote early or absentee for the November 6 election. “The explosion of early voting gives seniors more time to vote in an environment of harsh new voter identification laws in several battleground states,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. “The Alliance applauds states that have expanded their early voting programs to make the polls more accessible for all Americans.” To see which states have already begun voting, go to http://bit.ly/JqkLdd. For general voting information in your state, go to http://www.vote411.org.

Affordable Care Act Saves Seniors $4.5 Billion on Prescription Drugs
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Medicare beneficiaries have saved a total of $4.5 billion on their prescriptions since January 2011 thanks to the 2010 health care reform law.  The savings came both from increased coverage and from drug makers’ agreeing to lower their prices under the law.  Through August of 2012, beneficiaries had saved an average of $641 this year. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has also begun to close the Medicare Part D prescription drug “doughnut hole” - the coverage gap that is on schedule to be completely eliminated by 2020. 

Romney: Uninsured can get Health Care in the Emergency Room
Asked on the show 60 Minutes recently whether government has a responsibility to provide health care for the 50 million Americans who are currently uninsured, Mitt Romney responded, “Well, we do provide care for people who don’t have insurance, people—we—if someone has a heart attack, they don’t sit in their apartment and die. We pick them up in an ambulance, and take them to the hospital, and give them care. And different states have different ways of providing for that care.” However, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, part of HHS, the cost of a doctor visit in an emergency room averages $922, whereas an office visit averages $199.

Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance, responded, “Mitt Romney’s answer showed a lack of comprehension of the actual costs incurred by ER visits. He seems to be saying that the emergency room is a viable health care solution for the millions of Americans who will lose coverage or be kicked off their insurance plans if he repeals Obamacare. To suggest that the ER could ever be a good substitution for affordable health care is utterly unrealistic.”

Alliance Leaders: Institute for Puerto Rican/Hispanic Elderly Honors Easterling
The Institute the Puerto Rican/Hispanic Elderly honored Ms. Easterling on Thursday, giving her the Advocacy Award at the Institute’s Annual Gala Banquet.  The Institute is a nonprofit and service organization serving New York’s growing Latino and other ethnic/racial minority seniors, and their families.  They serve over 100,000 retirees in the New York City metropolitan area. “I want to thank the Institute for presenting me with your 2012 Advocacy Award.  This is a great honor,” said Easterling. “Retirees and activists of all ages have much to be proud of, but our work is far from over,” she told the crowd.

Today, Ms. Easterling is speaking at a tele-townhall with the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, while Mr. Coyle is addressing the International Union of Police Associations in Bonita Springs, Florida.

NFL Referees’ Strike is Settled
The National Football League (NFL) and the NFL Referees Association (NFLRA) reached an agreement ending a three-month strike on Wednesday night. The NFL had locked out the regular referees in June, after heated arguments during contract renegotiations with the referees’ union. The main point of contention in the contract negotiations was the referees’ pensions, which the NFL wanted to replace with 401(k)s. NFLRA representatives had noted the unsavory irony of a league generating $8.3 billion in annual revenue wanting to cut retirement benefits.

“The elimination of defined benefit pensions has been happening in too many industries for too long,” said Mr. Coyle. “I congratulate the referees on fighting back.” Football fans everywhere had been up in arms about a call made by a replacement referee at the end of Monday night’s Seattle Seahawks-Green Bay Packers game. This year’s football season, which kicked off in early September, has seen three weeks of controversial calls made by replacement referees.


For a printable version of this document, go to bit.ly/P09o4r.

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