Alliance Responds to Argument That Obama Raided $716 Billion from Medicare

August 24, 2012

A new ad, paid for by the Mitt Romney campaign, has a narrator saying, “Some think Obamacare is the same as free health care. But nothing is free. Obama is raiding $716 billion from Medicare, changing the program forever. Taxing wheelchairs and pacemakers! Raising taxes on families making less than $120,000! Free health care comes at a very high price. The Romney-Ryan plan will restore Medicare funding and protect and strengthen the program for the next generation.”

Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance, responded, “The $716 billion savings in Medicare under the Affordable Care Act do not affect benefits for seniors and beneficiaries. They do reduce overpayments and provider reimbursements - excluding doctors - and they curb waste, fraud and abuse. When Romney says he will reverse the changes to Medicare under health reform, he means he will reinstitute overpayments to insurance companies and protect pharmaceutical and medical device companies. This would weaken Medicare, making it insolvent earlier – in 2016.”

Singer Pat Boone Hits a Sour Note with “60 Plus” Ads

The 60 Plus Association, a conservative seniors group, has been using singer Pat Boone again in an ad that targets the Affordable Care Act.

Historically, many critics have referred to “60 Plus” as a front group for the pharmaceutical industry. In the current ad, Mr. Boone warns seniors of potential dangers in the bill and urges them to call Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio. Similar versions of the ad, aired in other states, target four other Democratic senators, including Bill Nelson of Florida.

PolitiFact, a project of the Tampa Bay Times to help find the truth in Washington and the Obama presidency, ran several of Boone’s claims in the ad through the “Truth-O-Meter,” and the results are not favorable for 60 Plus. A statement that an Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) created by the health care act “can ration care and deny certain Medicare treatments” was rated “Pants on Fire,” as was the claim that the IPAB is “like a Medicare IRS with the power to cut Medicare in order to pay for new government programs.” And the statement that the health care law “will cut $500 billion from Medicare” was rated “Mostly False.”

“Pat Boone is hitting a sour note in his new TV ads that try to mislead and scare Ohio seniors about Senator Sherrod Brown’s support for the 2010 Affordable Care Act,” said Dave Friesner, President of the Ohio Alliance, in response to the ads.

Added Florida Alliance President Tony Fransetta, “The ad fails to mention how the new health reform law improves Medicare for millions of seniors, helping them better afford to see a doctor and fill a prescription.  For example, the new law has helped over 238,000 Florida seniors on Medicare save a total of $142 million on their drug costs, an average of $596 person.”

Results of Swing State Polls, Taken After Ryan Was Chosen as VP Nominee, Are In

The Medicare debate was thrust to the forefront of the presidential campaign this month when Mr. Romney announced that his running mate would be Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. New polls have now found that more likely voters in Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin trust President Obama the most to handle Medicare. And on Thursday, The New York Times reported that the Romney-Ryan plan for the program, described as “a proposal to reshape Medicare by giving future beneficiaries fixed amounts of money to buy health coverage,” is “deeply unpopular” in those three states.

After more than a week of “frenzied” campaigning on the issue, Medicare ranks as the third-most crucial issue to likely voters in Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin — behind the economy and health care, according to new Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS News polls of the three swing states. Moreover, the Republican proposal to retool the program is widely disliked. Roughly 6 in 10 likely voters in each state want Medicare to continue providing health insurance to older Americans the way it does today; fewer than a third of those polled said Medicare should be changed in the future to a system in which the government gives the elderly fixed amounts of money to buy health insurance or Medicare insurance, as Mr. Romney has proposed. And Medicare is widely seen as a good value: about three-quarters of the likely voters in each state said the benefits of Medicare are worth the cost to taxpayers.

“Paul Ryan is known for proposing the budget plan, supported by Mr. Romney, to end Medicare as we know it by using vouchers to shift thousands of dollars in health care costs to seniors,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. “That doesn’t poll well, and it shouldn’t.”

Mr. Obama is ahead in Florida by 49 percent to 46 percent and in Wisconsin by 49 percent to 47 percent — differences within the polls’ margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points. Mr. Obama retains a six-point advantage in Ohio, where he leads Mr. Romney 50 percent to 44 percent, unchanged from last month’s survey. The polls were conducted by telephone (landline and cellphones) from August 15 through Tuesday among 1,241 likely voters in Florida, 1,253 likely voters in Ohio and 1,190 likely voters in Wisconsin. To see the whole article, go to http://nyti.ms/SsWWso.

Report from the West: Alliance Activity in Washington, Montana, Oregon

Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance spoke at the Washington State Alliance Convention in Tukwila on Wednesday. “I am particularly impressed with the Washington Alliance’s partnerships with college students,” Ms. Easterling told the crowd.

The new Montana Alliance elected John Forkan as their President last week in Helena. Also, Scott Blau has been elected as the Oregon Alliance President and is no longer “Acting President.”

Alliance Organizer Bentley Davis Speaks Alongside Nancy Pelosi in Ohio

Bentley Davis, State Director and Field Organizer for the Ohio Alliance, joined House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi as part of a panel on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) last Thursday in Columbus. Ms. Davis highlighted the benefits of the ACA toward retirees and Medicare beneficiaries. The two were joined by Almeta Cooper of the Ohio State University Medical Center and Dr. Theresa Long, head of the Columbus Department of Public Health.

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