2007-04-11 / Seniors

Senior Spotlight

Spitzer Explains Budget Benefits For Seniors

Governor Eliot Spitzer waged a huge battle to reduce Medicaid costs in the state's recently passed budget. He was successful in winning about $1 billion in reductions of the $1.3 billion he was aiming for.

"The budget significantly reduces growth in

the rate of Medicaid spending [and] directs more

Medicaid dollars to Medicaid patients," he stated after the budget was passed.

The 2007- 08 budget also contains $1.3 billion in additional tax relief, including an income -based benefit targeted to middle-class homeowners statewide and additional benefits for senior homeowners, the first phase of a plan to provide $5.3 billion in property tax relief, the governor said.

Speaking of Medicaid, Spitzer said, "The budget also takes steps to better manage the care of high needs individuals, primarily the elderly, the disabled and those with multiple medical and behavioral conditions.

"This initiative is critical because 75 percent of New York's Medicaid costs are generated by 20 percent of the patients," he added. This 20 percent of the state's almost one million Medicaid members includes seniors.

Spitzer says there is $2.2 billion in the Medicaid budget for home and community-based care, and provides additional investment in vital aging programs like nutrition assistance, long term care information and referral and resources for family caregivers.

To pay for these programs, Spitzer said, measures were enacted that will save the state nearly $1 billion in 2007- 08.

Part of these savings, he said, will be realized by reducing payments for pharmaceuticals in both the Medicaid program and the Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage (EPIC) program.

In addition, the governor said, a Preferred Drug Program (PDP), similar to that already operating for Medicaid, will be accelerated to Jan. 1, 2008 for EPIC members.

Under the PDP program, Spitzer explained, Medicare and EPIC program enrollees will receive the appropriate drugs they need because physicians' decisions will prevail.

MUGGING VICTIM MOVING OUT: Solange Elizee, the 85-year-old woman who was mugged in her Jamaica apartment building on March 4, is moving to an assisted living complex because she's afraid to continue living in the building where she was assaulted and robbed.

Meanwhile, Rose Morat, 101, who was mugged on the same day by the same person, according to police, is staying put in her Jamaica Estates apartment. Morat, like Elizee, still has nightmares about the attack, but refuses to be driven out of the apartment she has occupied for a long time. Police are still seeking the mugger.

SCORES HOLE IN ONE AT 102: A California woman had a long wait but recently scored a hole in one, thus becoming the oldest golfer to ever accomplish that feat, according to the Associated Press news wire service.

In a story in last Saturday's New York Daily News, the AP story said Elsie McLean, of Chico, California, thought she lost her ball after teeing off, but her golf mates, also out for a round of golf, found McLean's ball in the cup on the fourth green.

"For an old lady, I still hit the ball pretty good," the sprightly 102-year-old golfer told the reporter. The story didn't say how long McLean's been playing "the game of inches".

AARP MEETING: AARP Chapter 2889 will meet next Wednesday, April 18, at the First Presbyterian Church of Newtown, 54-05 Seabury St., Elmhurst at 12:30 p.m.

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