Council Will Override Mayor’s Medicare Veto: Marshall
Reporting on the status of the bill passed by City Council to provide for full reimbursement for the cost of Medicare Part B coverage for city retirees, Councilmember Helen Marshall tells us that Mayor Rudolph Giuliani vetoed the measure early this month.
Marshall (D-East Elmhurst) said, "We have 30 days from June 5, when the Council received the mayor’s veto message, to vote to override the veto and we will be doing it."
Marshall said the bill was approved by the Council by unanimous 48 votes, so there seems to be enough support to get the 34 votes needed to override.
If the bill becomes law, it will mean a savings of $600 for retired city workers who are presently paying a $50 a month for Medicare Part B premiums.
Marshall, who’s now running for Queens borough president, said the mayor felt the bill was too costly and should be enacted on a year-to-year basis. But Marshall said the Medicare Part B payment puts quite a strain on retirees, many of whom are on fixed incomes yet are forced to pay an exorbitant amount to maintain their benefit.
The city started partially reimbursing retirees for the Medicare Part B premium in 1988 by $19.53 a month. The reimbursement has been set at $32 per month since 1996.
Marshall will officially launch her campaign for borough president next Thursday night at Antun’s in Queens Village from 6 to 9 p.m. with a $65-a-ticket cocktail party.
EYE HOME CARE REIMBURSEMENT: Congressmember Joseph Crowley is seeking to correct a federal funding formula that reduces Medicare reimbursements to New Yorkers for home health care. The reductions were imposed in 1997 and have had a serious impact on individuals and the home health care industry, Crowley said. In asking that the 15 percent reduction in Medicare payment limits be ended, Crowley stated: "Quality home health care is a godsend to thousands of New Yorkers, allowing people to remain in their homes while receiving vital health services." He said he and his colleagues in the New York Congressional delegation" recognize that we must permanently correct the unintended consequences of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 that threatens these services by reducing the amount that can be reimbursed by Medicare."
Crowley said the 2002 federal budget sets aside Medicare funding for the permanent elimination of the 15 percent reduction in Medicare home health care reimbursement limits, but the action must be authorized by additional legislation from two other committees.
PROPOSE MORE HELP FOR SENIORS: Assemblymember Catherine Nolan (D–Ridgewood) and Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer, a candidate for mayor, visited the Sunnyside Community Services Center last Friday to announce legislation will be introduced by Nolan to make more seniors eligible to participate in the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) and Senior Citizen Homeowner Exemption (SCHE) programs.
Next Monday at 1 p.m. a forum for candidates seeking the 26th City Council District seat covering Woodside and Sunnyside will be held at the center. The center is located at 43-31 39th St., Sunnyside.
PUSH FOR MEDICARE DRUG PLAN: Buoyed by Democrats’ taking control of the United States Senate, seniors groups around the country are breathing new life into their campaigns to get prescription drug coverage added to Medicare.
Recently, the Alliance for Retired Americans, a new lobbying group carved out of labor unions, teamed up with local senior organizations and held dozens of demonstrations and rallies, one of them in front of drug giant Pfizer Inc. in New York City. Another pro-prescription coverage organization, the AARP, the largest senior advocacy group in the U.S., is also gearing up to increase its efforts in the campaign. Democrats in the Senate are on their side, vowing to make prescription drug coverage a priority.
On the other side of the issue, the major drug companies are not sitting on their hands. They’ve vowed to block the plan in the Senate and they’re prepared to spend huge sums of money to do so.