Markey Warns Of Realtor Scare Tactics
Assemblymember Margaret Markey says local residents have been bombarding her office with copies of mail from realtors claiming that their houses are in danger of being foreclosed.
Most of the people who have brought this to her attention have no mortgages on their homes and do not owe any property taxes.
"This is obviously an overzealous real estate broker trying to dupe honest, hardworking people into selling their homes," Markey said. When homeowners called the realtor to complain or make inquiries, they were told that the letter must have been a mistake, she said.
The letters seem to be targeting seniors in the Maspeth and Elmhurst neighborhoods, she added.
Markey (D–Maspeth) has lodged a complaint against this broker, who she did not identify, with the New York Secretary of State on behalf of concerned homeowners. She said complaint forms to report this type of activity be obtained at her office, in person or by telephone. Markey’s office in Elmhurst is at 84-32 Grand Ave., 718-651-3185. Complaints can also be lodged directly with the Secretary of State at www.dos.state.ny.us under Licensing Services– License Complaint form.
Markey also advised homeowners to find out whether there are any judgments or liens against their property.
"These kinds of irresponsible business practices should not be tolerated and should be reported to the appropriate authorities," Markey stated. "It is shameful and wrong to get people riled up about the security of their finances and trying to profit from that."
TRY TO LOWER DRUG COSTS: Seeking to reduce the rising cost of prescription drugs for seniors under the EPIC program, state Senator Toby Ann Stavisky has introduced a bill that would limit out-of-pocket costs for those enrolled in that program to five percent of their income.
The Flushing lawmaker estimated that under her plan, a senior earning $30,000 a year could save as much as $900 in out-of-pocket cost, such as co-payments and deductibles; a senior couple earning $50,000 a year could save $4,930 a year in out-of-pocket expenditures.
Stavisky (D) said seniors enrolled in EPIC (Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage), the state discount drug program, pay on average over seven percent of their income on prescription drug costs.
"During these times of fiscal restraint," Stavisky said, "we must carefully set our priorities. I believe making sure our seniors have the essential medications they need to maintain their quality of life should be one of our top priorities."
"Unfortunately, the Republican controlled senate failed to pass this important legislation. The issue is that too many New York seniors are being forced to choose between paying for their prescription medications and buying food to put on their table and rent to keep a roof over their heads."
She vowed she will keep trying to pass the bill.
The problem arises, she explained, because insurance companies help offset their costs and keep profits high by soaking individuals with extremely high co-payments and deductibles. Even with EPIC she added, these added prescription costs can be devastating for seniors, particularly those on fixed incomes.
DRUG SAVINGS PLAN OK’D: Perhaps New York state should follow Maine’s example and enact a program under which large drug manufacturers grant rebates to uninsured residents. Last week the program received the United States Supreme Court’s approval. The legislation had been passed in 2000 but was challenged in the courts and delayed from going into effect.
Under the program, called "Maine Rx," the state acts as a pharmacy benefit manager and tells drug manufacturers, in effect, "If you want to sell your products in Maine; you’ve got to negotiate rebates with us the same as you do when you sell to the Medicaid program." Failure to comply will lead the state to approve prescription cases one by one before a pharmacy could dispense any drugs.
Under deals with Medicaid administrators, states get a sizeable deduction in the price they pay for drugs. Maine will pass these savings on to residents. It’s expected other states will follow Maine’s example.
MEETING: A representative of the Metropolitan Museum of Art will be the guest speaker at the Wednesday, June 4 meeting of AARP Chapter No. 2889 at the First Presbyterian Church of Newtown, 54-05 Seabury St., Elmhurst, at 12:30 p.m. The topic will be "Delight In the Artist’s Fascination, With the People, Places and Things That Are the Essence of New York."