2005-04-13 / Seniors

Nolan, Citigroup Present Check For New Boiler At St. Mary’s Senior Ctr.

Assemblymember Catherine Nolan (c.), with Citigroup Queens Vice President and Director of Community Relations Eileen Auld, St. Mary’s Senior Center Director Robin Apparicio, Queens Borough Public Library Interim Director Thomas Galante, Jimmy Van Bramer, government and community relations, Queens Borough Public Library, P.S. 78 Principal Terri Delis, Silvana Vasconcelles, Family Literacy Program, and Terry Adams, Hunter’s Point Community Coalition, holding the check for $5,000 Citigroup provided to replace the boiler at the senior center. St. Mary’s also houses the Library Family Literacy Program, which provides English language instruction for children attending nearby P.S. 78 and their parents.    Assemblymember Catherine Nolan (c.), with Citigroup Queens Vice President and Director of Community Relations Eileen Auld, St. Mary’s Senior Center Director Robin Apparicio, Queens Borough Public Library Interim Director Thomas Galante, Jimmy Van Bramer, government and community relations, Queens Borough Public Library, P.S. 78 Principal Terri Delis, Silvana Vasconcelles, Family Literacy Program, and Terry Adams, Hunter’s Point Community Coalition, holding the check for $5,000 Citigroup provided to replace the boiler at the senior center. St. Mary’s also houses the Library Family Literacy Program, which provides English language instruction for children attending nearby P.S. 78 and their parents. This past winter, members of St. Mary’s Senior Center in Long Island City could be seen wearing an extra sweater or moving around more than usual, trying to keep warm.

The boiler in the basement of the building at 10-15 49th Ave. was hardly working so there was little or no heat in the center most days.

That situation is expected to be remedied in time for next winter because last Friday, Assemblymember Catherine Nolan (D–Ridgewood) and representatives from Citigroup presented a check to the senior center’s officials to replace the old, inefficient boiler.

The new boiler will also be welcome to members of the Queens Library Family Learning Program, which shares the space with the senior center. The library program offers English language instruction several days a week for parents and their children attending nearby P.S. 78.

FIGHT OVER DOCS’ MEDICARE FEES: A recent story out of Washington reported that, according to the formula used to determine doctors’ fees for treating Medicare patients, doctors will receive about 5 percent less for six consecutive years beginning in 2006. The total fee reduction would amount to 26 percent by 2011.

Needless to say, doctors, speaking through the American Medical Association, are furious. They have started a nationwide lobbying campaign to convince Congress and Medicare officials to remedy the situation.

If the huge reduction in fees goes into effect, many doctors are threatening to treat fewer patients which, it is obvious, will directly affect many seniors’ health care.

Another possibility is that efforts to enable Medicare officials to pay doctors what the doctors consider a fair fee could lead to increases in the premium or the deductible which every Medicare member pays.

It’s estimated that if the new fee schedule somehow does not go into effect and the payment schedule is continued without increases for 10 years it would cost the federal government about $110 million to maintain the Medicare program. There would also be increases in the beneficiary premium of about $35 billion, according to a New York Times story in the April 4 edition.

It is not a pretty picture.

Medicare members’ outlay for Medicare coverage has been increasing gradually and steadily over the past few years. In addition, some members may find they will have to pay more for prescription drug coverage under the plan that goes into effect next January 1.

At the same time, doctors argue they’re entitled to a fair fee every time they treat a Medicare member. They point out that they’re spending more for supplies, wages for nurses and office aides and malpractice insurance. There has been much talk about the precarious position that the Social Security system is in, but Medicare could be in even worse shape. There’s no easy solution to stabilizing either program, so President George W. Bush and the Congress need to do special studies to deal with both Social Security and Medicare instead of merely waging a war of words regarding these two vital programs.

MEETING: There will be entertainment by Mary Caroline next Wednesday when AARP Chapter No. 2889 meets at the First Presbyterian Church of Newtown 54-05 Seabury St., Elmhurst at 12:30 p.m.

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