2001-01-03 / Seniors

Senior Spotlight

Will Bush Revive Drug
Reimportation Law Nixed By Clinton?
By John Toscano


Will Bush Revive Drug
Reimportation Law Nixed By Clinton?

Seniors seeking to buy low-priced prescription drugs in Canada and Mexico are expected to start their trips again now that a drug re-importation law was wiped off the books by the Clinton Administration.

Now that the program has been wiped off the books, many seniors who had hoped they’d reap some savings from re-imported drugs, must be wondering if the new president still feels that way and will seek to have a new bill passed.

All of the conjecture started when Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala killed the program, which had been created when President Bill Clinton signed the bill into law on Oct. 28th. At the time, the president said the program was little more than a false promise because of loopholes.

When Shalala dumped it last Tuesday, she said the program was not safe and would not save consumers any money. Her action was based on language in the law which said the program would take effect only if Shalala could show Congress that the proposal would not pose risks to the public and would result in significant reductions in the sky-high prices seniors are now paying.

Shalala said she could not demonstrate either result, so the law will not go into effect.

The law was enacted in hopes that drugs sold at lower prices to foreign countries, including Canada and Mexico, could be re-imported back to this country and sold to strapped seniors at those lower prices.

But there was no language in the law to assure that the drugs would come back at lower prices if the drug industry took steps to keep the prices high.

Aides to Bush said after the law was killed that the president and Congress would have to reassess the bill, but added that Bush would also seek other ways to bring prices down through changes in Medicare and drug patent laws.

The incoming president had said during the campaign that he would pursue legislation to let the states offer drug prescription aid through their programs and through HMOs, but that such aid would mostly be available to low-income persons.

SCS NEEDS VOLS: If you’re a senior and you like children and acting, the Theater Project at Sunnyside Community Services (SCS) should be your cup of tea. The Intergenerational Program at SCS, which pairs seniors and children, is sponsoring the Theater Project. Rehearsals are set to begin in late January or early February and performances will be staged in late March or early April. The group will perform before other settlement houses also associated with United Neighborhood Houses of New York City. If interested, call Elizabeth Guidi at (718) 784-6173 ext. 130. SCS is located at 43-31 39th St., Sunnyside.

UNIQUE PAINTING EXHIBIT: An exhibition of "tinsel paintings" done by members of the HANAC Archbishop Iakovos Senior Center in Astoria is being presented at the Broadway branch of the Queens Borough Public Library, 40-20 Broadway, Long Island City, until Jan. 23rd. Admission is free.

Tinsel painting is described in a Queens Borough Public Library release as "reverse painting on glass." The exhibit was organized by Elder Craftsmen, Inc., as part of the Art for Seniors in New York Neighborhoods Program. Elder Craftsmen worked with members of the Iakovos Center to help them to create artwork depicting the local neighborhood. Over a seven-week period, each artist produced a tinsel painting based on a photograph they took. The objectives of the program were to encourage creativeness and to increase seniors’ awareness of an involvement with their localities.

The Broadway branch is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Mondays and Wednesdays; 1 to 8 p.m. on Tuesdays; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursdays and Fridays; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays, and noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays. For information, call (718) 721-2462.

HEAP HELP: Seniors who might qualify for federal assistance in paying their heating bills this winter can pick up applications to enter the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) at the Astoria Restoration Association (ARA) 31-28 Ditmars Blvd., Astoria (718) 726-0034. ARA will help to fill out the application, as well.

Eligible applicants must be 60 or older, or the head of a household who’s receiving Social Security Disability, or live alone or with a spouse and be collecting SSI Code A. One must also meet income guidelines. HEAP is open to renters or homeowners. Public Assistance or non-Public Assistance Food Stamp recipients will receive their HEAP benefit through the Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) system, but only if they are on the public welfare rolls.

FEDERAL RETIREES MEET: The National Association of Retired Federal Employees, Astoria/Long Island City Chapter 1871, meets next Thursday, Jan. 11th, at 1 p.m. at the Catholic War Veterans Hall, 45-06 30th Ave., Long Island City. President Harry Beider says all federal workers and retirees are welcome. For information, call (718) 932-0661.

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