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OCTOBER 2012

THE OFFICIAL EMAGAZINE FOR GENERATION AMERICA MEMBERS

Polls don’t tell The

whole truth

ALSO INSIDE

UNDERSTANDING MEDIGAP AARP EMAILS REVEAL MEMBER REVOLT AGAINST OBAMACARE MOBILE, ALABAMA


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GENERATIONAMERICA.ORG

OCTOBER 2012

3

In this issue: Polls Don’t Tell the Whole Truth

Mobile, Alabama

Overwhelmend with Financial Paperwork

22

4

30

Sections

Economic Snapshots: Growth in Government

7

Special Feature: Election 2012

AARP Emails Reveal Member Revolt Against ObamaCare

12

Shingles Vaccinations Not Covered for Some Medicare Beneficiaries

15

Featured Benefits Guide

16

News & Opinion Your Finances Health & Wellness Travel

4 9 22 26 30

Study Finds No Overall Increased Brain Tumor Risk from Cell Phones 28 On the cover and page 5: The White House, Washington, D.C. Photographs in the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division. LC-HS503- 3874 PHOTO: Carol M. Highsmith

Horses Are Headliners on Chincoteague Island, VA

36


November 6, 2012 Polls don’t tell The

whole truth


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Liberal Media Distorts Poll Numbers. Obama in Trouble. By Michael Young

Many Americans know just how important this coming election is on November 6th. It is critical for the survival of our nation as we know it that Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan win this election.

I

t is also imperative that citizens who truly represent our values take majority control of the Senate and maintain control of the House.

The good news is that with our continued support, Mitt Romney is positioned to win this election. Remember, no sitting president has been re-elected when their approval rating was below 50 percent and Mr. Obama’s approval is currently 45 to 47 percent. And do not get depressed by the current “reported” polling which would lead one to believe that President Obama has a 6 point lead. Some media outlets are distorting the polls in an attempt to depress Romney

turnout. A closer look at how some of the pollsters survey voters tells a different story. Pollsters typically use the last Presidential election turnout of voters to determine the breakdown of party affiliation when selecting voters to poll. For example, in an August 1st article on Townhall’s Hotair.com, Ed Morrissey explained that polling in swing states such as Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida inaccurately skew polling as high as NINE points! A CBS/New York Times poll conducted in Florida sampled Democrats 9 points more than Republicans even though the voter turnout data in the 2010 mid-

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SPECIAL FEATURE | ELECTION 2012

We must not sit idly by any more. We must stay informed and hold all elected officials accountable.

term elections showed an even split. So, don’t let the polls depress you. If you take the time to analyze the methods and sampling you will discover that these polls are not representing reality. Another piece of good news that you will not hear about in the mainstream media is that Republican voter registration is up and Democrat voter registration is down. Especially in border states. And don’t forget the Tea Party or the Silent Majority. They turned out in record numbers in 2010 and we are all still here and ready to act. To reaffirm this claim, review the Scott Walker recall victory in Wisconsin. Breathtaking! It literally stunned the Left.

PHOTO CREDIT: Architect of the Capitol

With all this good news, winning on November 6th is still not a given. We still need to work hard for this win. To ensure victory, all of us need to be

It is also imperative that citizens who truly represent our values take the majority control of the Senate and maintain control of the House.

involved. A powerful way for Generation America members and other American seniors to make a difference is to volunteer at the local level. If you aren’t volunteering in some capacity and would like to, please contact your candidate’s office, tea party representative or the local conservative party office to see how you can help. Every campaign desperately needs volunteers because they are essential to winning. Here is a list of needs where you should get involved: • Poll watch – In some cases you may have to register with the state for this position, and your local party will be able to provide you with proper guidance. This job normally involves just watching and monitoring what is happening on Election Day at polling stations and reporting any irregularities to your candidate’s office. • Distribute literature – State laws require that you be a certain distance from the polls during voting but this is a great place to hand out literature for the candidate of your choice. • Phone bank – Your local party or candidate’s office can provide you with a list of potential voters along with a script. The goal; ensure they get to the polls and vote. In many cases, phone banking can be done from the comfort of your home with online phone banking systems provided by the campaign.


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• Block walk – Face-to-face interaction is a great way to identify, inform and motivate potential voters. Campaigns today map out each precinct down to the neighborhood and house. • Posting signs at polling locations – Candidate signs outside polling locations have shown to increase the chance for your candidate to be elected. Make sure the signs follow the state regulations on distance from the voting location. If they are too close, election officials will have them removed or ask you to move them. Having Governor Romney take control of the White House is the first step in taking back our country. After November 6th, the real work begins. For the last 50 years, progressive liberals have slowly and consistently taken over our education and judicial systems, and our State and Local elected official positions. It will take years to select, groom, and elect citizens who will uphold the U.S. Constitution to replace liberal judges, school board officials, railroad commissioners, etc. This is why the 2012 elections are just the beginning. We must not sit idly by any more. We must stay informed and hold all elected officials accountable. The path to righting this country starts with Generation America members like you and other American seniors. Seniors are wise and knowledgeable citizens. Your counsel to the next generation directly impacts these future leaders. But getting the next generation of leaders into the right roles

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ECONOMIC SNAPSHOTS: GROWTH IN GOVERNMENT It’s very clear from the following charts that our elected officials have allowed a massive growth in government. As of 2010, we have a tax code with over 71,000 pages of rules and have seen the number of Federal Subsidy Programs grow an astonishing 21 percent in five years from 2005 to 2010. This is unsustainable and will bankrupt our country.

Number of Pages of Federal Tax Rules

Includes the tax code, regulations, and various IRS rulings 80,000 71,684

70,000

66,498

60,000 50,000

46,900 40,500

40,000 30,000

26,300

20,000

14,000 8,200

10,000 0

16,500

19,500

400 1913

504 1939 1945 1954 1969

1974 1984 1995 2000 2006 2010

SOURCE: CCH, Inc.

Number of Federal Subsidy Programs 2,500 2,001

2,000 1,645

1,500

1,000

1,019

1,009

1970

1975

1,123

1,390

1,425

1995

2000

1,176 1,013

500

0

SOURCE: CATO

1980

1985

1990

2005

2010


SPECIAL FEATURE | ELECTION 2012

To ensure victory, all of us need to be involved in some form or fashion.

starts at the Precinct level. The Precinct Committeeman or Committeewoman is the most powerful elected position in the United States. This person determines whose names will appear on the ballot for elective office. Do you know your Precinct Committeeman or Committeewoman? Most citizens 60 years ago knew their Precinct Chair’s name and regularly talked to them about their party’s platform. Unfortunately, in the 2008 election, it was estimated that only half of the Republican Precinct Committeeman positions were filled in the United States. That is devastating to

conservative values being represented by citizens on the ballot. All of us have a duty to stay informed and get involved. The good news is that current polls are skewed and Governor Romney can win the White House this November. But the real battle for our country begins after this upcoming historic election. We must engage in our communities, school boards, local elections, and yes, Precinct Committees to ensure we turn the progressive tide and bring this great country back to the roots our Founder’s set for us over 230 years ago.G

We could all use

CREDIT: tobytoons.com

some R&R


NEWS

OPINION

GENERATIONAMERICA.ORG

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Romney’s Taxes and the Liberal Mindset

by Michael D. Tanner, CATO Institute

Studies suggest that private charity is more effective and more efficient than government programs, particularly for things that the Obama administration claims to care about, such as fighting poverty.

As anyone within range of a television set knows, Democrats have spent the last several months fixated on Mitt Romney’s taxes. One endlessly repeated commercial points out that Romney paid only 13.9 percent of his income in taxes in 2010, “probably less than you.” That ad is misleading on several levels. First, unless your household was earning more than $189,400 per year, it is unlikely that you are paying a higher federal income-tax rate than Romney. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the average middle-income American pays an effective federal income-tax rate of 1.3 percent. Recall that half of Americans pay no federal income tax at all. And, second, about two-thirds of Romney’s income had already been taxed at the corporate level. While a precise estimate is impossible because of variations in corporate-tax payments, if one assumes an average effective corporate rate of roughly 25 percent, Romney’s real federal income-tax rate was closer to 30 percent.

The president repeatedly expresses concern over cutbacks in government spending, while observing that “the private sector is doing just fine.” But perhaps more important, Romney also donated an additional 13.8 percent of his income to charity, nearly $3 million. When the Romney campaign mentioned this a couple of weeks ago, Democrats were quick to dismiss it as substantively different from and less important than paying taxes. In fact, some suggested that such large charitable contributions might actually be a form of tax evasion, since they were taxdeductible. By helping people on his own, Romney was undermining government charity. “Charity is not democracy,” complained Garrett Gruener, who helped found Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Strength, a pro-tax group. At the same time, the Obama administration was upset that Americans still resisted turning to government programs when they hit


NEWS & OPINION | POLITICS

hard times. Responding to a poll showing that most Americans were far more likely to rely on family, personal savings, or other forms of aid than on government, the Obama administration hastened to put out word that “given that only 15 percent of you turn to government assistance in tough times, we want you to know about the benefits that could help you,” according to USA.gov’s “government made easy” website. This might seem a bit odd, especially since studies suggest that private charity is more effective and more efficient than government programs, particularly for things that the Obama administration claims to care about, such as fighting poverty. But we’ve long known that conservatives and

libertarians, on average, contribute significantly more to charity than do modern liberals. Indeed, according to a recent Gallup poll, Americans who described themselves as “very conservative” gave 4.5 percent of their income to charity, on average; selfdescribed “conservatives” gave 3.6 percent; and “moderates” gave 3 percent; while “liberals” gave just 1.5 percent; and “very liberal” Americans gave barely 1.2 percent. Those who voluntarily give the least are the same people who will spend the next few nights in Charlotte telling us how much they care, while demanding that the government take more from the rest of us by force through higher taxes.

Photo: Detroit Publishing Company Photograph Collection, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, LC-D416-700

The Founders’ vision was a nation of individuals, each endowed with individual rights by their creator — moral agents making their own choices, and coming together on a voluntary basis to help one another.


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This is not really the contradiction it seems. Rather, it reflects the mindset of modern liberals, such as President Obama and his supporters, who fundamentally discount, indeed distrust, the actions of private individuals and businesses. To modern liberalism, anything truly important must be done by government — can only be done by government. The myriad institutions of civil society are a distraction at best, an unwelcome competitor at worst. This is an attitude that goes far beyond charitable giving. It is reflected in a belief that government jobs are especially ennobling, while people who work in the private sector are necessarily “greedy” and “corrupt.” Just listen to how President Obama refers to government workers versus how he talks about private business. Remember Julia, the Obama campaign’s sad vision of a composite American, who can’t do anything, from going to school to starting a business to buying her own birth control, without the government’s help. The president’s oft-quoted “you didn’t build that” remark, even in context, reflects this basic idea of government primacy. It is government, the president believes, that makes all else possible. That is why the president repeatedly expresses concern over cutbacks in government spending, while observing that “the private sector is doing just fine.”

There is a soft totalitarianism to this mindset, hostility to the very idea of individual initiative and personal choice. Recall that in his last State of the Union address President Obama mused wistfully that the American people should be more like soldiers, who “are not consumed with personal ambition,” but who “rise or fall as one unit.” That is a fundamentally different vision from the one that has animated America since its founding. The Founders’ vision was a nation of individuals, each endowed with individual rights by their creator — moral agents making their own choices, and coming together on a voluntary basis to help one another. That is what Robert Thompson of the University of Pennsylvania meant a century ago, when he said that government programs were “a rough contrivance to lift from the social conscience a burden that should not be either lifted or lightened in that way.” Those who seek the primacy of government have long sought to claim the moral high ground as those who care, but at its heart statism holds a hollow morality that neither trusts nor believes in people. Michael Tanner is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and author of Leviathan on the Right: How Big-Government Conservatism Brought Down the Republican Revolution. This article appeared on National Review (Online) on September 5, 2012.

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NEWS & OPINION | POLITICS

AARP Emails Reveal Member Revolt Against ObamaCare The AARP now stands to generate over $1 billion ($1,000,000,000,) in new Medigap policy premiums as a result of Medicare being cut by $716 billion as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Long before the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee released the findings of their investigation about the AARP in March 2011, Generation America touted all along that the AARP betrayed their members. How can a reputed seniors organization support socialized healthcare run by government bureaucrats that will ultimately ration care and cost seniors more money? It was widely reported by the AARP in the media and to Congress that AARP members wanted healthcare fixed and that they supported ObamaCare. We notified our members that the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee discovered that the AARP misrepresented its members’ wishes. Then, later in a Wall Street Journal article by Kim Strassel on September 20th, she stated that the AARP received over 4,000 calls in just one

day from members opposing ObamaCare and only 36 members in support. She also reported from her research that over 1,800 members quit the AARP in one day. In addition, she provided numerous AARP and White House emails released by the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, which showed a concerted effort between the AARP and the White House to force Congress to back ObamaCare using false support from AARP members. Whether you say this concerted effort was championed by ideology or financial gain, we do know that the AARP now stands to generate a minimum of $1 billion ($1,000,000,000,) in new Medigap policy premiums annually as a result of Medicare being cut by $716 billion as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.


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In the following letter sent on June 25, 2012 to the AARP’s CEO, Barry Rand, U.S. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Wally Herger has asked for an explanation for AARP’s incongruent public statements and correspondence with the White House concerning the healthcare law.


NEWS & OPINION | POLITICS

We are waiting for the public release of the AARP’s response. We will notify you as soon as it is available.


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Shingles Vaccinations Not Covered for Some Medicare Beneficiaries By Michelle Andrews, Kaiser Health News

Q. I have Medicare and a Plan F Medigap plan, so I should be covered for all medical needs. But in order to get the shingles vaccination, it will cost me $185. I can’t pay this without using my grocery or prescription money. It’s totally unfair. What can I do? A. Shingles is a painful rash caused by a virus that can lead to long-term nerve damage called postherpetic neuralgia. All Medicare Part D prescription drug plans cover the shingles vaccine, which is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for people age 60 and older. But Medigap plans, which may cover the deductible and coinsurance amounts for services provided under Medicare Parts A and B (hospitalization and outpatient care), don’t offer any financial help on the co-payments for vaccines and other drugs covered under Part D. A Government Accountability Office report published in December found that seniors faced many obstacles to getting needed vaccines, including the shingles vaccine. Many physicians don’t recommend or even stock the shingles vaccine, the report found. The amount that the patient pays out of pocket for that vaccine could also be a

barrier, according to the report. If the only health coverage you have is through Medicare and your Medigap plan, there are still ways you may be able to reduce your co-payment for the vaccine, says David Lipschutz, a policy attorney at the Center for Medicare Advocacy in Washington. First, if you have Part D coverage, contact your plan to make sure the co-payment you’re being quoted is accurate. In addition, many doctors who don’t stock the vaccine ask patients to buy it from the pharmacy. If that’s the case, make sure the pharmacy is in your plan’s network so you’ll owe a smaller co-payment than if you buy the vaccine from an out-of-network pharmacy, Lipschutz says. If the vaccine co-payment is still too high, it may be worth looking into other Part D plans or signing up for one during the upcoming

annual enrollment period, Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. Depending on your other prescription drug needs and coverage, you may be able to find a better deal, Lipschutz says. It’s worth noting that under the 2010 health care law, people who have new private health insurance plans and those whose plan benefits have changed significantly are eligible to receive, free of charge, vaccines recommended by the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. Plan members who are in their early 60s, therefore, might qualify for a shingles vaccine without a co-pay. For more information about MediGap Plans, Prescription Part D options as well as the upcoming annual enrollment period visit Generation America at www.GenerationAmerica.org/ medsupp or call our benefit provider AmWins at 877-701-4362.G


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YOUR FINANCES

Overwhelmed With Financial Paperwork?

Ask Carrie by Carrie SchwabPomerantz

Dear Carrie: The older I get, the more financial paperwork I seem to have. Any tips on how I can organize it for easy access?


GENERATIONAMERICA.ORG

Dear Reader: The more your financial life becomes filled with things like owning a home, insurance policies, investing accounts and retirement savings — not to mention income taxes — the more organized you need to be. The beauty of today’s electronic world is that you don’t necessarily have to keep hard copies of every document. But you still need to know what documents you have and where they are, not only for your own sense of security but also for the security of your loved ones should something happen to you. Here’s what I suggest to get started. n ORGANIZE YOUR PAPERWORK INTO CATEGORIES First, it helps to think of your financial life in terms of basic categories. For example, you likely have: Bank accounts: Checking and savings account statements Debt: Credit card statements, car loans, student loans, personal loans Home: Lease and security deposit receipt if you rent; mortgage, title or deed and final settlement statement if you own your home; home improvement receipts

and other deductible expenses Insurance: Health, auto, homeowner’s/ renter’s, life, umbrella and disability policies; sales receipts for insured big ticket items Personal: Birth certificate, marriage certificate, passport, prenuptial agreement, divorce decree, health records Retirement: 401(k) and IRA statements, pension agreement, Social Security statements Investments: Statements for taxable brokerage accounts, trade confirms, children’s accounts Estate planning: A current copy of your will, trust(s), durable powers of attorney for finances and health care, advanced health care directive. Once you have the categories, it’s easier to create a filing system to match. n DECIDE WHAT TO KEEP AND WHAT TO TOSS Now look at what’s essential to keep and for how long, as well as what you can safely get rid of. Personal documents: It’s best to pretty much keep these forever.

Car: Sales receipt or lease, title, warranties and repair records

Insurance policies: Keep these as long as they’re active.

Taxes: Completed returns and receipts for charitable contributions, business

Tax returns: The IRS suggests that you keep your tax returns (along with

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Consider keeping your birth certificate, marriage certificate, prenuptial agreement, Social Security card, passport and automobile titles in a safe deposit box at your bank.


YOUR FINANCES

The more your financial life becomes filled with things like owning a home, insurance policies, investing accounts and retirement savings — not to mention income taxes — the more organized you need to be.

supporting documentation, such as proof of cost basis for asset sales, receipts for charitable donations and other deductions, etc.) for seven years. Loans: Keep satisfied loan documents for seven years. Home: It’s also wise to keep records involving the purchase, sale, improvements and taxes on your home for at least seven years after you sell the property. These are all important papers to store in an easily accessible, physical location. Bank and credit card statements: A lot of folks fill their file cabinets with everyday bills, credit card receipts, and monthly bank, credit card and investment account statements — much of which can be gotten rid of sooner or accessed online. —For instance, you can toss your utility bills at the end of the year, unless you’re using them as a tax deduction for a home office. —You only need to keep monthly bank and credit card statements until you get your annual statement. —The same goes for quarterly investment statements. —And there’s no need to hold onto sales receipts once your check has cleared or a sale shows up on your statement unless there’s a tax purpose.

n CREATE A SAFE PLACE FOR SPECIAL DOCUMENTS Whether you prefer a paper or electronic filing system, certain documents need added security. Consider keeping your birth certificate, marriage certificate, prenuptial agreement, Social Security card, passport and automobile titles in a safe deposit box at your bank. You might also want to keep current insurance policies there, as well. If you’d rather keep your documents at home, purchase a fireproof/waterproof safe. Alternatively, you can scan important documents for easy access to electronic copies. n MAKE A LIST OF LOCATIONS AND CONTACTS Once you have your paperwork organized, make a master list of all of your accounts, policies and important documents, and indicate where everything is located. This should include your credit cards, bank accounts, investment accounts, insurance companies, safe deposit box information, wills and trusts. Then make a separate list of whom to contact in case of an emergency: family members, employers, financial advisors, insurance agent, attorney, accountant and banker. Keep these lists in a secure place and make sure the appropriate individuals know how to access them.


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n SIMPLIFY WHERE YOU CAN Lastly, think about how you could simplify your finances. Bank account and credit cards: For instance, having one primary bank and only one or two credit cards can make it easier to stay on top of everyday expenses. Automatic bill pay: Setting up automatic bill pay can cut down on a lot of paperwork. Brokerage accounts: Consolidating brokerage accounts can make managing investments easier. With online storage and year-end reports quite common, recordkeeping is evolving to the point where you don’t have to keep a paper copy of every financial record or document. However, you still have to devise a system so you can easily locate information when you need it. Once that system is in place, you’ll feel much more in control of your paperwork — and your time. Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz, Certified Financial Planner™, is president of Charles Schwab Foundation and author of “It Pays to Talk.” You can e-mail Carrie at askcarrie@schwab.com. This column is no substitute for an individualized recommendation, tax, legal or personalized investment advice.

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HEALTH

WELLNESS

Understanding Medigap: Medicare Supplement Insurance By Catherine Colburn

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edigap, or Medicare Supplement Insurance, refers to the various private health insurance supplement plans available to Medicare beneficiaries. Designed to provide coverage for medical expenses not covered, or only partially covered, through the current Medicare program; these plans help to cover copayments, coinsurance and deductibles. Participation in Medicare Supplement plans require enrollment in traditional Medicare Parts A & B. Medicare will continue to pay its share of the approved amounts for covered health care costs, and the Medicare Supplement plans act as secondary payee providing coverage for the gaps between the Medicare payment and your out-of-pocket expenses. Since 1992, Medigap plans are standardized by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and our currently divided into ten plan designs, labeled A through N. There


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The best time to buy a Medigap policy is during your Medigap open enrollment period. are a variety of coverage choices based on the level of “gap” coverage that fits your needs. While CMS over sees the designs, the plans are sold and administered by private companies. Coverage availability is often times proportional to the premium paid and consists of basic benefits and various plan enhancements. Particular coverage options will vary based on current state of residence. While Supplement plans vary by state they still pay regardless of where service is provided. Medicare Supplemental coverage is accepted by any provider that participates in the traditional Medicare system. This option provides the most freedom to select a doctor and is not limited geographically within the U.S. Generally, Medigap policies do

not cover long-term care such as nursing homes. Additional plans may be needed for services covering vision, dental, hearing aids, eyeglasses or private duty nursing.

level. However, if you apply during your Medigap open enrolment period, you can buy any Medigap policy at a price representing a person of good health.

Medigap policies are often times billed monthly, from the private insurance company servicing the plan. This cost is in addition to the Monthly premiums that you pay to Medicare. The policy only covers one person. You and your spouse will need to purchase plans separately. Standardized Medigap policies are guaranteed renewable, even if you have or develop health problems. Insurance companies may only cancel your Medigap policy as a result of unpaid premiums.

Please keep in mind that Prescription drug (Part D) coverage is not included in Medicare Supplements. To help you decide what policy is best for your needs, a licensed Enrollment Specialists will be assigned to you, and will be your dedicated Specialist for subsequent calls. This eliminates the need to “start over” if you call back for additional questions.

The best time to buy a Medigap policy is during your Medigap open enrollment period. This 6 month period begins on the first day of the month in which you are 65 or older, and enrolled in Medicare Part B. Some states have additional open enrollment periods, and knowing what your state offers is important. In fact, understanding your Medigap open enrollment period is essential. Medigap insurance companies are generally allowed to use medical underwriting to decide whether to accept an application and the premium

We put the needs of Generation America members first, above all else. With your best interest in mind, we can find a supplemental plan that best fits your situation. Call 877-701-4362 and talk to one of our Medicare Enrollment Specialists today. You can also get an overview of our step-by-step plan on how we assist Generation America members at www. GenerationAmerica.org/ medsupp. Catherine Colburn is the AmWINS Group Benefits Director of Association and Affinity Sales Cathy.Colburn@amwins.com

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HEALTH & WELLNESS

Study Finds No Overall Increased Brain Tumor Risk from Cell Phones By National Cancer Institute

A large international study has found no overall increased risk of two types of brain tumors among people who use mobile phones. The case-control Interphone study analyzed data on cell phone use from more than 5,000 patients in 13 countries who had either glioma or meningioma and from matched comparison groups.


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No evidence of overall increased nervous system tumors who had environmental factors in people risk was found when the results histories of cell phone use, between age 10 and 24. were analyzed according to particularly long-term and Cell phones emit a form of increasing numbers of calls, heavy users of mobile phones, radiation known as duration of call time, or time as this one. radiofrequency energy, since a person started but how this affects to use cell phones. For cancer risk is not clear. a very small proportion “We have not seen an increase in brain tumor incidence that one might Dr. Linet noted that of persons who were although cell phone expect…from cell phone usage,” heavy users, the usage has been researchers found an increasing, exposure to increased risk for “Interphone will be the most radiofrequency energy from cell glioma, but the results were definitive study of cell phones phones to individuals has inconclusive. and risk of brain and central declined steadily. This is in part nervous system tumors for “An increased risk of brain because technology has some time to come,” said Dr. cancer is not established from improved and because there are Martha S. Linet, chief of the the data from the Interphone more cell phone towers, which Radiation Epidemiology Branch study,” said Dr. Christopher reduces the amount of in NCI’s Division of Cancer Wild, director of the radiofrequency energy exposure Epidemiology and Genetics. She International Agency for to the user. The farther a cellular praised the investigators for Research on Cancer, which telephone is from the base going to great lengths to coordinated the study. He station antenna, the higher the understand and address the noted, however, that further power level needed to maintain research was warranted because methodological challenges in the connection. studying cell phone usage in of the result involving heavy users and because usage patterns continue to change, particularly among young people. The findings, published online May 18 in the International Journal of Epidemiology, are consistent with the majority of reports on cell phones and malignant or benign brain tumors. No previous study, however, has included as many patients with brain and central

patients with cancer. The study focused on patients who developed brain tumors between age 30 and 59. A Nordic study is expected to provide some results on children in the next few years, Dr. Linet said. Plans are also under way for a study called MOBI-KIDS, which would evaluate risk from new communications technologies, including cell phones, and other

Dr. Linet and her colleagues have been monitoring the incidence of brain cancer in the United States during the rise in cell phone usage. “We have not seen an increase in brain tumor incidence that one might expect if there were an increased risk of cancer from cell phone usage,” she said. “This is an important public health message.” SOURCE: http://www.cancer.gov/ ncicancerbulletin/051810/page10


TRAVEL

Mobile Alabama The Oaks and Arts of Mobile, Ala. Thrive Amid History By Priscilla Lister

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he live oak trees in Mobile, Ala., are so beloved that the state legislature ordained the Mobile Tree Commission in 1961 to protect them, making it unlawful to trim or cut one down within the city’s seven historic districts without approval. It’s one of the oldest such tree commissions in the United States in one of the oldest cities in the Southeast, where many of the magnificent trees have withstood hurricane after hurricane to live up to 450 years.


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WHEN YOU GO: Getting There Six airlines offer 188 daily flights into Mobile Regional Airport as well as nearby Pensacola Regional Airport and the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport. Car rentals are available at each of these airports.

Where to Stay The Battle House Hotel www.pchresorts.com 251-338-2000 The Grand Hotel Marriott Resort, Golf Club and Spa www.pchresorts.com 251-928-9201 Admiral Semmes Hotel 251 Government St. www.admiralsemmeshotel.com 251-432-8000. The Malaga Inn, 359 Church St. www.malagainn.com 251-438-4701

Where to eat: Compleat Angler 29249 U.S. Highway 98 www.compleatanglergrille.com 251-621-1357 Callaghan’s Irish Social Club 916 Charleston St. Also has great live music www.callaghansirishsocialclub. com, 251-433-9374 Spot of Tea Across from Cathedral Square 310 Dauphin St. www.spotoftea.net 251-433-9009 Wintzell’s Oyster House 605 Dauphin St. www.wintzellsoysterhouse.com 251-432-4605 Tours For personalized architectural tours with Craig Roberts: www.lcraigroberts.com 251-343-8165 For more general information www.mobile.org or 800-566-2453


TRAVEL

Two of those historic districts are centered on Dauphin Street, the city’s main commercial corridor since its founding in 1702 by the French when they tried to build an empire in America by way of the Louisiana Territory. Dauphin Street was named for the son of France’s King Louis XIV. “Like walkin’ down Dauphin Street” came to mean anything of exceptional quality. Roberts took us to Christ Church Cathedral, the oldest church in Alabama, dating from 1822, whose classic Greek Revival building features 12 stained-glass windows, including two by Tiffany. Across the street is Mobile’s 1855 City Hall, the oldest city hall building still in use in the country.

“Fire is Mobile’s tragedy — everything before the Civil War burned. And in 1865, after the war ended, a third of the city was destroyed by an explosion in a munitions building.” On Church Street, in the No. 1 historic district immediately south of Lower Dauphin Street, all the classic architectural styles are on view — Greek Revival (favored from 18001850, features Doric columns across front), Italianate (1850-1890, flat roofs, big corbels, cast-iron front porches) and Queen Anne — “Victorian on steroids” (1890-1910, peaked, embellished roofs). Also here is the Church Street Graveyard, the oldest in Mobile, where 1,250 people were buried from 1819 to 1898. All the graves face sunrise, and one is always adorned with tokens of love: doubloons, red roses and lots of Mardi Gras beads. This country’s first Mardi Gras celebration was in Mobile in 1703, a claim to fame Mobilians love to cite. In fact, Mobile was the capital of French

PHOTO CREDIT: LOC, LC-HS503- 3874

Craig Roberts, a local architect and artist known for designing “new old houses” in this beautiful city since 1979, led my companions and me on an architectural tour through his adopted hometown, regaling us with stories while sharing details of the homes and buildings that preserve Mobile’s heritage. He drove us through most of the seven historic districts that encompass some 600 square blocks where 5,836 buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places — “one of the highest percentages in the United States,” he said.

Buildings dating to before the Civil War are somewhat rare in Mobile, Roberts told us. Mardi Gras, Mobile, Alabama style


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Louisiana until it was moved to New Orleans in 1722. Before the Civil War, Mobile was the third busiest port in the fledgling United States, and its citizens were wealthy from lumber and shipping — two industries that remain strong today. But the war curtailed the Mardi Gras partying until 1866, when Joe Cain, local bon vivant, dressed up as chief of the Chickasaw Indians and paraded with friends through downtown for Mardi Gras. He paraded as the chief until 1879 and died in 1904. “The Sunday before Fat Tuesday at this grave, 25 women — our most secretive society today — all veiled and dressed in funeral garb, gather around this grave crying and screaming, then laughing and throwing down merry widow beads,” Roberts told us. Then “Joe Cain’s mistresses,” all dressed in red, proceed downtown in one of the city’s most cherished traditions. We visited the Mobile Carnival Museum to get a closer look at the elaborate costumes worn by Mardi Gras royalty — the kings and queens of the 60 local organizations, 30 of which parade, that celebrate Mardi Gras every year. This 2 1/2-week private party event has become an economic engine yearround for Mobile, said Judy Gulledge, executive director of the Mobile Carnival Association, which operates the museum.

“Do you know any seamstresses?” Gulledge asked the visitors. “They can make a good living in Mobile.” Indeed, the bejeweled trains worn by the queens and kings average 18 feet long, weigh 35 pounds and take nine months to create by hand. We went to a public party in Cathedral Square downtown on Dauphin Street, where Arts Alive! celebrated 10 years in 2012. This outdoor art and music festival is just one of several efforts launched to enliven downtown Mobile. “Ten years ago there was a huge shift in the arts here,” said Bob Burnett, executive director of the Mobile Arts Council. The Mobile Museum of Art was transformed then into a multimillion-

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A lot of this revitalization in downtown Mobile is credited to David Bronner, chief executive officer of the RSA, Retirement Systems of Alabama, the state’s pension fund. Among his milestone achievements is the 2006 construction of the RSA Battle House Tower, now the tallest building on the Gulf Coast, along with the restoration of the adjacent Battle House Hotel, both downtown landmarks.

Mobile is the third most populous city in Alabama. dollar showcase of European, American and African art as well as contemporary crafts, notably glass works. The Center for Living Arts downtown also began 10 years ago, and the historic Saenger Theater was restored then, as well. The Center for Living Arts was formed to save the 1926 movie palace, where the Mobile Symphony performs as well as touring artists, including Aaron Neville and Bonnie Raitt. “It’s now a showplace of Dixie,” said Executive Director Robert Sain. Just five years ago, LoDa ArtWalk began in the Lower Dauphin historic area, centered on Cathedral Square. On the second Friday of every month, downtown art galleries, studios and shops are open late, offering treats and drinks until 9 p.m.

The Battle House Hotel originated here in 1852 but was one of those fire victims in 1905. In the 1970s it fell on hard times and was closed for 30 years. More than 80 percent of its historic plasterwork had to be recreated, and it reopened in 2007 to become a beloved gathering place for Mobilians again. The RSA is also behind the restoration of the Grand Hotel in Point Clear, now a Marriott resort and spa, which dates to 1847. The Grand Hotel is on the eastern shore of Mobile Bay — across from downtown — where nearby Fairhope is a charming, artsy town that is easily walkable. On the first Friday of every month, Fairhope’s galleries and shops stay open late and offer wine and cheese. Nall, an acclaimed artist whose parents and all four grandparents were also born in Alabama, has a studio in Fairhope, as well as one in Saint-Paul de Vence, France. The one-time


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student of Salvador Dali told us, “You have to come to the Grand twice a year if you’re anybody.” Nall, who has created china for Royal Limoges called “Bellingrath” that features camellias, Alabama’s state flower, was chosen by RSA’s Bronner to place artworks by Alabama artists in all eight properties owned by the RSA. “He rebuilt Mobile,” said Nall, who gathered works from more than 250 Alabama artists. His own intricate paintings and assemblages are framed by equally fascinating materials, such as tiny pine cones and pieces of found glass from hurricane debris. We had to visit Bellingrath, Nall’s camellia inspiration, a 1935 home and garden open for tours about 45 minutes south of Mobile that was built by Walter and Bessie Bellingrath, early investors in Coca-Cola. Its gardens are known for camellias in winter, azaleas in spring, roses in summer and chrysanthemums in autumn. And, of course, it has live oak trees. Be sure to look up at Mobile’s majestic ancient oaks. Mardi Gras beads have been tossed there with love.

Right: Bellingrath Gardens in Mobile, Alabama on the Isle aux Oies River features a conservatory, nature walk, water features, and several themed gardens.

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TRAVEL

Horses Are Headliners

on Chincoteague Island, VA. By Victor Block

Mention Chincoteague Island, Va., and you’re likely to be asked, “Isn’t that the place where those ponies are?” The answer is yes. The narrow barrier island and nearby larger Assateague Island are best known as the home of wild ponies that were made famous in the popular children’s book “Misty of Chincoteague” by Marguerite Henry, published in 1947, and the movie that followed.


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T

he attention of the country was focused on the area again in March 1962, when a devastating hurricane flattened oceanfront dunes, crashed onto Chincoteague Island (pronounced shink-a-tig by locals) and flooded the town beneath a wall of sea water. Misty, pregnant at the time, was saved by being sheltered in her owner’s home, which stood on high ground. The foal she delivered, appropriately named Stormy, served as the main character in another book by Henry. Visitors to the area are immersed in stories of Misty, Stormy and the other ponies as soon as they arrive. From spotting the little horses in their natural environment to a shop that sells Wild Pony Wine to a visit with Misty and Stormy themselves, reminders of the famous animals are everywhere. Although known as Chincoteague ponies, two herds today roam free on Assateague Island, a wildlife refuge protected from development and separated by a fence along the Maryland-Virginia border. Slightly smaller than most horses, the shaggy, sturdy animals have adapted to their harsh seashore environment by eating dune and marsh grasses and drinking from fresh-water ponds. Pony lore begins with the mystery of how their ancestors came to Assateague Island — such as that the horses are descendants of

domesticated stock that farmers grazed there during the 17th century to avoid taxes and penning regulations on the mainland and that Native Americans had ponies when the first European settlers arrived. More intriguing is the legend that their forebears swam to shore from the wreck of either a Spanish galleon or an English vessel. In addition to the books about Misty and Stormy, the horses gained fame from the annual pony penning and swim held each July since 1925. Held for the benefit of the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Co., the event begins as the Virginia herd is rounded up and those strong enough to swim are herded into the narrowest part of the channel separating the islands. After the crossing, they’re run through the streets of Chincoteague, put in pens overnight, then sold at auction. The following day the ponies left unsold swim back to Assateague. Opportunities to avoid the crowds and see the ponies in their natural setting are plentiful. They often graze near designated viewing areas in the Chincoteague Wildlife Refuge, which, despite its name, is on Assateague Island.

The book and movie, “Misty of Chincoteague” transformed the island into a world-class tourist destination.

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horses used for rides, lessons and shows. Wildlife bus tours offered from April through November, which carry passengers into areas of Assateague closed to other vehicles, include pony sightings on every trip.

Chincoteague Island is seven miles long and three miles wide, offering a multitude of outdoor activities including crabbing, clamming, hiking and biking. I also had sightings from the water on Captain Dan’s Around the Island Tours. In addition to learning about the history of Chincoteague and Assateague from a waterman whose family has lived in the area since 1780, we passed clam and oyster beds, spotted bald eagles and other birds, and saw a number of ponies on land. Captain Dan pointed out individual horses by name and explained the reason for each. He said that Woeful Willy, a somewhat depressed-looking pony, hangs out alone. Rambling Rose, on the other hand, “keeps company” with several stallions. A dark tan horse with an unkempt blond mane is known as, what else, Surfer Dude. There also are other ways to get close up and personal with the ponies. At the Chincoteague Pony Center, descendants of Misty are among

Misty fans also won’t want to miss the Museum of Chincoteague Island. Exhibits explore the local history, culture and people, including the oystering industry, which employs many of the approximately 3,000 residents, and ornamental waterfowl carving for which the area is equally well known. The story of Misty and Stormy is the focus, and the remains of those two little horses — in what, when I used the word “stuffed” was told are in a “preserved” state - welcome visitors as they enter the building. My introduction to the oystering industry came during a stop at the Chincoteague Shellfish Farms. Mike McGee, the jovial proprietor, explained that dredging for oysters as was done in the past has pretty much given way to aquaculture. He said the local waters are “God’s country for the oyster” and recommended eating them “raw and naked” without sauce in order to enjoy and appreciate their full flavor. As a self-styled aficionado of oysters who has slurped down more than my share of the bivalves, I was overjoyed by the first taste of the treat he proudly offered and each succeeding sample. They were fat and succulent,


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and I rated them the best I’ve enjoyed anywhere, any time. A visit to McGee’s operation or any other on the island and viewing oyster beds in the shallow surrounding waters provide an introduction to the process that transports oysters from their environment to dinner plates all over the country. As a native of the area who began helping his father on the water at the age of 5, McGee exhibits both the pride and friendliness to visitors displayed by many locals. He also clings to the unique twang that immediately identifies locals. In their vernacular, the word “town” comes out as “tayn,” “where” is “wahr” and “air” translates to “ayer.” I found equally engrossing the story of ornamental bird carving, which has about two dozen practitioners on Chincoteague Island today. Long before European settlers arrived in the New World, Native Americans fashioned floating decoys from reeds and grasses that they used to attract waterfowl within reach of arrows and nets. These gave way over time to simple carved wooden decoys and, later, to manufactured plastic models. Some carvers began to fashion much more elaborate waterfowl, and what had begun as a craft evolved into an art form. The best examples display

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every feather and other feature in intricate, lifelike detail and can take months to complete. Decorative carvings are available to see and purchase at a number of places around town. The best collection I discovered is at the museum like store named Decoys Decoys Decoys, which delivers on its promise. More than 2,000 birds produced by both local artists and others from around the country surround visitors like a colorful aviary. While the highest known price paid for

a decorative bird is $830,000, you won’t have to pay nearly that much to take home one of the magnificent figures. If you do decide on one of these treasures, you’ll have a keepsake to remind you of a very different kind of destination.

WHEN YOU GO: For more information about visiting Chincoteague and Assateague islands, visit www.chincoteaguechamber.com or call 757-336-6161.

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