Pataki Signs Cohen
Governor George Pataki has signed into law legislation known as "the veteran’s buy-back bill" which will permit veterans who are members of a public retirement system to buy back a maximum of three years of work service time and thereby enhance their pension benefits.
The bill, sponsored by Assemblymember Michael Cohen (D–Forest Hills) also includes improvements to death benefits for survivors.
Cohen explained that in order for a veteran to receive the credit, he or she must have served in the armed forces "during a period of military conflict and must already have at least five years of credited service in a public retirement system in New York state.
"I am extremely pleased to have sponsored this bill which demonstrates our strong commitment to aiding our veterans," Cohen stated after learning the governor had signed the bill.
Cohen said anyone wishing more information should contact their benefits administrator or call his district office at (718) 263-5595.
WANTS LEGAL AID FOR SENIORS: City Councilmember Sheldon Leffler (D–Queens Village) wants federal elected officials to include legal assistance for seniors and for elder rights advocacy programs when they vote to reauthorize the Older Americans Act (OAA).
Leffler, who introduced a resolution to that effect, declared: "It is imperative that we ensure that such services are allotted to our seniors. Unfortunately, many of our seniors are in great need of basic living necessities. In addition, elder abuse continues to rise and many of these victims are often unable and unsure of where to run. Programs that would offer legal advocacy and the like would empower our seniors and allow them to be in control of their own lives."
OAA was enacted in 1965 and established the federal Administration on Aging, which plans, advocates and delivers services and provides funding to states, which in turn distribute the funds to local agencies.
EPVA VETS TO MARCH: The Nations Parade is on tap for this coming Saturday in Manhattan and the Eastern Paralyzed Veterans Association (EPVA) will have a contingent in it. The parade marks the 50th anniversary of the Korean War and will highlight the accomplishments of those who fought in the combat zone. More than 36,000 Americans perished in that war and another 100,000 plus were wounded or injured, EPVA said.
Meanwhile, EPVA is engaged in a battle with the Bronx Veterans Administrator Medical Center which wants to close one of the spinal cord injury (SCI) wards at the vets’ center. EPVA says the center’s administrator’s are going ahead with the planned closing "in spite of the Veterans Health Care Eligibility Reform Act (Public Law 104–262 and VHA Directive 2000–002 mandating them to maintain and appropriately staff 62 beds at the facility dedicated to spinal cord injured veterans."
EPVA has joined with its parent group, Paralyzed Veterans of America, and more than 20 members of Congress to pressure Veteran Affairs Secretary Hershel Gober to order Bronx VAMC to rescind the closing of the spinal care injury wards.
MORE $ FOR HMOs?: President Bill Clinton and Republican lawmakers are in agreement to increase the Medicare budget by about $30 million over the next five years so the agency can increase payments to HMOs, hospitals, nursing homes, hospices and home health care agencies. But both sides have different ideas on which providers should get how much. The president is threatening to veto any plan the Republicans pass because he feels their proposal includes too much help for HMOs, which are operated by insurance companies.
AARP MEETING: AARP Chapter Number 2889 meets next Wednesday, Nov. 15th, at 12:30 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church of Newtown, 54-05 Seabury St., Elmhurst.