1999-06-30 / Seniors

Clinton Hot For Senior’s Rx

President Bill Clinton is expected to formally announce any day now that he wants Congress to support his efforts for long range savings in Medicare as well as including prescription drug coverage for members of the government’s health care plan for seniors.

But we would caution everyone to take a wait-and-see attitude on both, especially the prescription drug coverage, because not only are Republicans wary of the proposal but also many Democrats.

The problem with the plan is the excessive cost involved. While the president is talking of setting up the much desired new coverage at a cost of $25 a month for each member, members of his own party warned last week the coverage would cost about $45.50 a month.

In effect, the panicky Dems are talking about virtually doubling the present Medicare premium of $45.50 a month.

Democrats are also deeply concerned about an alternative to having all Medicare members, rich and poor, pay the expensive new premium. The alternative would be to give the poorer Medicare recipients the drug coverage at little cost, but to charge the more well heeled members a premium based on their income. Either way, Democrats fear, all seniors would get even with them at the polls next year.

Our guess is that drug prescription coverage will not materialize for the reasons cited and also because just over the horizon, about 76 million baby boomers will be joining the ranks of seniors and coming into the Medicare program. There’s just too much money needed to provide this very essential coverage.

STUPP APPLAUDS BUDGET:

Commissioner Herbert Stupp, head of the city’s Department for the Aging (DFTA), last week praised the City Council and Mayor Rudolph Giuliani for adding "a record $22 million" to the funds allocated for seniors in the 1999-2000 expense budget, bringing that chest to a total allocation of $148.4 million for the new fiscal year beginning July 1st.

In addition, another $31.5 million was approved for senior center and other capital improvement over the next 10 years, Stupp said.

"Every year since Mayor Giuliani took office in 1994 he has increased the department’s budget," Stupp noted.

free food program:

A free food program operated by Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens has been opened to seniors age 60 and over, offering them a monthly supply of nutritious food. Home bound seniors may apply by proxy.

There are income guidelines that determine who may qualify for the program, Food and Nutrition (FAN), which operates out of 89-56 162nd St., Jamaica.

A person qualifies if single and income is under $10,712-a-year. The guidelines range from $14,378-a-year income for a family of two to $36,374-a-year for a family of eight. For each additional member of a family, the income guidelines increase by $3,666-a-year.

Other than that, applicants must be age 60 or older, live in New York State, and be on Medicaid or receive Social Security Income. One must provide as proof an original birth certificate; a picture ID or passport; a Medicaid card of SSI reward letter or recent income tax return (for income verification); and a phone bill or Con Ed bill for residence verification.

The FAN Center, is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday to Friday and most Saturdays. Public transportation to get to it includes the ‘E,’ ‘F,’ ‘J,’ ‘R,’ and ‘Z’ subway lines, the Long Island Rail Road to Jamaica or the Grand Central Parkway and Van Wyck Expressway by car.

The program is funded by the New York State Department of Health and Department of Agriculture. The program presently also serves pregnant women, postpartum women and infants and children up to age six.

HOUSING OPPORTUNITY:

An affiliate of Catholic Charities, Progress of Peoples Management Corp., has announced that St. Pius Senior House, at 105-12 Liverpool St., in Jamaica, on July 7th will start taking applications from senior citizens and the elderly mobility- impaired with limited income. Qualifications for the 70-unit senior apartment residence will be based on Federal Preference Guidelines under the Section 8 program.

Applications can be secured by mail by writing to Progress of Peoples Management Corp., 191 Joralemon St., 2nd Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201. When filled out, applications (only one per family) must be sent by regular mail in time to be received by July 28th.

Catholic Charities operates three senior citizen residences in Queens: Catherine Sheridan House in Astoria, Monsignor Thomas P. Campbell Apartments in Long Island City, and the Father Richard Reder Apartments in Bellerose. It also operates 18 other facilities in Brooklyn.

SOCIAL SECURITY OFFICE NOTICE:

The Social Security office at 63-44 Austin St., Rego Park, (718) 896-8511 will only be providing limited service from Wednesday, July 7th to Friday July 16th because of a major renovation project. Full service will resume on Monday, July 19th. The center’s telephone system will be disabled during most of that time period.

If you must contact Social Security, call (800) 772-1213 since most Social Security business can be handled by phone.

If you feel you must take care of your business at a Social Security office, these are locations of other offices: 28-18 Steinway St., Astoria (Q18 bus); 42-15 Crescent St., Long Island City (all buses and trains to Queensborough Plaza); 136-65 37th Ave., Flushing (No. 7 train to Main Street); 155-10 Jamaica Ave., 3rd Floor, Jamaica (‘E’ or ‘J’ train to Jamaica Center or any bus to Archer Ave.); and 67-10 Myrtle Ave., Glendale (Q55 bus).

SOCIAL SECURITY SPEAKERS:

Gene Barrett of College Point, recently attended speaker training sessions on Social Security as part of the AARP program to disseminate information regarding the program. Barrett is the regional New York City Coordinator for AARP/VOTE, the association’s voter education program. She heads AARP’s activities in the five boroughs to educate legislators and seniors about important issues. Barrett’s a retired financial writer.

If you would like to have an AARP volunteer speak before your group about Social Security or Medicare, call (518) 434-4194 or write to the AARP Legislative Office, One Commerce Plaza, Suite 1947, Albany, NY 12260.

VETS INFO:

The 8th Annual Queens Veterans Information Day on May 15th, sponsored by Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 32, proved very successful as 300 vets, spouses and dependents received current benefits information from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.

Among the topics covered were direct assistance with compensation and pension claims, enrollment in VA health care, current Social Security information, employment counselling, education and veterans property tax exemptions.

For the past 16 years, Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 32 has been counseling veterans at its office in Rego Park (718) 897-8387. Ask for Peter Garon, secretary.

SECURITY SERVICES:

Once again, the Queens Jewish Community Council (QJCC), through its Project Necessity, is offering seniors and people with disabilities free security devices to make them safer in their homes and apartments—items such as free window gates, locks and other security devices. If interested, call Myra Nathan at (718) 544-9033. Project Necessity is funded through the New York City Department for the Aging (DFTA) and sponsored by Borough President Claire Shulman, and the New York State Department of Criminal Justice Services; also sponsored by the Queens delegation of the state Assembly.

SHORT NOTES:

The Rego Park Senior Center, 92-29 Queens Blvd., is hosting a lunch cruise around Manhattan island on Thursday, July 15th for $43 per person, round-trip transportation included. All seniors are invited. The two hour cruise includes buffet lunch. Call Sandra Epelman, (718) 896-8511.

SUMMER PROGRAM:

The Kew Gardens Community Center, 80-02 Kew Gardens Rd. (near Queensborough Hall) has started its summer program. Call (718) 268-5960.

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