Dems Double What Bush Would Spend On Drug Rx Coverage
In the latest activity in Congress concerning a prescription drug coverage program under Medicare, Democrats said they will try to pass a plan that costs almost twice what President George W. Bush has proposed, which would allocate many more benefits than the president’s plan.
Several Democratic lawmakers and advocates for seniors said that the president’s proposal would not cover benefits sufficiently to meet the needs of Medicare members.
The president has proposed a plan which would cost $153 billion over 10 years.
The Democrats’ plan would cost from $310 billion to $330 billion over 10 years.
United States Senator Bob Graham (D–Florida) said the president’s plan was "grossly inadequate." Howard J. Bedlin, vice president of the National Council on the Aging, a research and advocacy group, declared, "People are naive if they think they can provide a voluntary prescription drug plan that would be attractive to Medicare beneficiaries for much less than $400 billion over 10 years. That is the reality."
Even a Republican senator, Charles E. Grassley of Ohio, said the president’s $153 billion proposal would not be enough to cover the one-third of Medicare members who do not have any prescription drug coverage.
Last month, the Congressional Budget office, a nonpartisan arm of Congress, estimated it will cost $1.5 trillion from all sources to cover drug costs for the elderly. That was more than the $1.1 trillion estimate the CBO had made in May 2000. In recent years spending on prescription drugs has grown more than any other category of personal health spending.
‘BILL OF RIGHTS’: The president and Democrats are also far apart on a health care Bill of Rights to protect consumers covered by health insurance companies. Last week the president said he wanted to pass a bill, but warned he would veto any legislation that did not contain reasonable caps on damage awards.
One of the bills he had in mind, sponsored by Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy (Massachusett) and Republican Senator John McCain (Arizona), would allow suits for up to $5 million in damages for anyone who could prove they were wrongly denied treatment.
OUTSTANDING OLDER WORKER: Many older Americans are either postponing their retirements to continue working or returned to the work force after retiring. There are thousands of seniors still in the work place and an organization called Green Thumb is searching for the Outstanding Older Worker and Most Outstanding Older Worker Employer in New York state.
Any New Yorker over 65 and working at least 20 hours a week or more can be nominated for the Prime Time Award.
This is the fourth annual contest sponsored by Green Thumb, a national non-profit agency dedicated to helping older Americans find training and employment. The winner in New York will get an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C. in September to join winners from 49 other states and Puerto Rico. In New York state, Prime Time is sponsored by Medicare.
Nominations can come from employers, co-workers, family, friends or the worker. For information and nomination forms, contact any Green Thumb office or call 1-800-562-2776. Deadline for nominations is Apr. 23. They may be mailed to Roger White, Green Thumb, Inc., 39 Church St., Cortland, New York 13045, or faxed to (607) 756-7980.
For further information, contact Roger White at (607) 756-7509.
SEEK VOLUNTEER TUTORS: The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) is seeking volunteers 55 and over to assist children in grades kindergarten through five to improve their reading and writing skills at an after-school program at the Virtual Y. Vols are needed Monday through Friday from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. for a minimum of two days a week. Anyone interested can call Veronica Levy at (212) 614-5557.
TRANSIT FORUM: A Senior Citizens forum will be held next Wednesday, Apr. 4, at the Sunnyside Community Center, 43-31 39th St., Sunnyside from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Sponsored by the Senior Citizens Advisory Committee of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Transit Managers on seniors’ reduced fare mail and ride MetroCard, Access-A-Ride service, accessible buses and subways and transit improvements. For travel directions, call (718) 330-1234; for forum information, call (718) 694-5145 or (212) 442-0963. Refreshments will be served.