2002-06-19 / Seniors

Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton (D–New York) and Jon Corzine (D–New Jersey) have introduced legislation that would increase funding for veterans’ health care in high-cost states such as New York and New Jersey.

Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton (D–New York) and Jon Corzine (D–New Jersey) have introduced legislation that would increase funding for veterans’ health care in high-cost states such as New York and New Jersey.

Clinton, in a letter to Michael Wheaton of the Eastern Paralyzed Veterans Association (EPVA) in Jackson Heights, said the two states have lost tens of millions of dollars under the current formula.

"Recent studies by the federal General Accounting Office and the Raid Corporation found that the formula adopted six years ago by the Veterans Administration to distribute federal health care dollars to veterans’ health care networks unfairly penalizes northeast and midwest states," Clinton explained.

New York’s junior senator said the GAO report showed that veterans’ hospitals in those areas lost approximately $921 million under the [current] formula, representing a 10 percent decline is funding from 1996 to 2001. This has resulted in service cutbacks, Clinton said.

Under the Clinton/ Corzine legislation, the national income threshold for classification as a low income veteran, currently $24,000 throughout the country, would be replaced by regional thresholds to be set by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

An EPVA spokesperson explained that the $24,000 income threshold, does not adequately address many individual veterans’ inability to defray the cost of care and has forced some veterans to pay for part of their treatment.

Jeremy Chwat, EPVA director of federal affairs, said, "Clearly, the most direct way to address this problem is to adjust the national threshold by locality to more accurately reflect the differences in geographic cost of living, as this legislation would do.

"This locality adjusted threshold would help many veterans who have low incomes receive health care from the VA at no cost."

The EPVA spokesperson noted that with the disproportionatly high cost-of-living that exists in the New York metropolitan area, the senators, along with the EPVA, believe it is unfair to expect veterans with incomes slightly above $24,000 to afford private insurance to help defray the cost of their care.

GIANARIS’ SENIOR FORUM A SUCCESS: A host of public officials, city agency representatives and senior advocate agencies answered questions ranging from senior housing to discrimination to the Access-A-Ride program at the June 7 senior forum hosted by Assemblymember Michael Gianaris (D–Astoria) at the Della Monica Senior Center. Some 100 people attended.

Among the officials were Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. (D–Astoria) and Department For the Aging Commissioner Edwin Mendez–Santiago. Gianaris said most questions were answered, but any that could not be answered immediately would be handled by his office.

"I am pleased with the great success of this forum," Gianaris said. "Residents were able to raise their concerns and have their questions answered in addition to learning more about what services are available to them."

EXTEND VETERANS’ TUITION AWARDS: State Senator Serphin Maltese (R–C, Middle Village) has filed a bill to extend to Sept. 1, 2004 the Vietnam and Persian Gulf Tuition Assistance Program, which was created in 1984 to enhance the employability of Vietnam-ear veterans. Maltese said he felt a real need still exists to expand the program, increase the available funding, and provide for proper promotion of this veterans’ benefit. Maltese chairs the Veterans Committee and is a Korean War vet.

REDUCED FARE METROCARD PROGRAM: The Queens Borough Public Library, through its Special Service’s Department, is bringing the MTA’s mobile sales outreach staff to six Queens branch locations throughout June to provide application assistance and information to seniors and the disabled to secure reduced fare MetroCards.

Here’s the schedule of appearances:

*Wednesday, June 19, 3 p.m., Pomonok branch, 158-21 Jewel Ave., Flushing, (718) 591-4343.

*Thursday, June 20, 3 p.m., Douglaston branch, 249-01 Northern Blvd., (718) 225-8414.

*Tuesday, June 25, 2 p.m., Elmhurst branch, 86-01 Broadway, (718) 271-1020.

*Wednesday, June 26, 10 a.m., South Ozone Park branch, 123-16 Rockaway Blvd., (718) 529-1660.

*Thursday, June 27, 2 p.m., Kew Gardens Hills branch, 72-33 Vleigh Place, (718) 261-6654.

*Monday, July 1, 3 p.m., Queensboro Hill branch, 60-05 Main St., (718) 359-8332.

NOLAN HAS METROCARD SIGNUP: Assemblymember Catherine Nolan (D–Ridgewood) is also keeping the MetroCard bus busy. She has scheduled stops on Friday, June 21, at Queensbridge Houses, Jacob Riis Settlement House, 10-25 41st Ave., Long Island City, 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.; Ravenswood Houses Community Center, 35-40 21st St., Astoria, Noon to 1 p.m., and Astoria Houses/Goodwill Houses, 27th Avenue and 4th Street, 1:30 to 2:30 p.m.

Senior citizens or persons with disabilities will be able to sign up for the reduced-fare MetroCard at any site without having to send in an application with a picture. Pictures will be taken at the bus site. Patrons of the MetroCard bus can also add value to their in-force MetroCards.

Senior

Spotlight

By John Toscano

Clinton, Corzine Seek Increased Vet Health Care Funding


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