Medicare Part D Program 'Changes' Starts; Gioia Talk On Vets' Job Program
This open enrollment period for the Medicare Part D program began last Saturday, November 15, and will continue to the end of this year.
Medicare Part D, which helps reduce seniors' prescription drug costs, is paid for by Uncle Sam, but is operated by private insurance companies, which receive payments from the federal government. It has worked out reasonably well and is popular. According to the Center for Medicine In the Public Interest (CMPI) a private research and education group, a recent Harris Interactive Poll showed 87 percent of Part D enrollees are happy with the program.
Peter Pitts, CMPI president, in advising seniors about the open enrollment period, stated, "Qualified seniors should not delay. With hundreds of private plans competing to provide the best deals, Medicare Part D has more options and better coverage than ever before. That's really healthcare choice we can believe in."
Pitts warned, however, that some plans,
especially the more popular ones, will be more expensive in 2009, so even seniors who are pleased with their existing drug coverage should examine their options. In general, Pitts said, the program has reduced out-of-pocket healthcare expenses for the average enrollee by 17 percent, according to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Also, he said, the projected cost to taxpayers of Part D over the next decade has dropped by $117 billionsince last summer, from $915 billion to $798 billion.
GIOIA TALK ON VETS JOBS PROPOSAL: At a recent meeting of the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce, City Councilmember Eric Gioia discussed his innovative plan to place returning veterans in New York City government jobs in order to better take care of 8,000 veterans who are city residents that have already served in Iraq and Afghanistan and the nearly 1,200 who are still serving there.
The plan proposed by Gioia, called New York City Veterans Employment Training Sponsorship, or NYCVETS, is designed to ease servicemembers' transition to civilian life by giving returning veterans more opportunites to expand on the many skills they have acquired during their military service.
Under the program, city agencies set aside fully paid internships for qualifying veterans while also teaming up the vet with a professional civilian mentor for a 12- month program.
Gioia's program is based on a very successful one introduced in Los Angeles, California, which started on May 16, 2007 and has already placed more than 100 vets in city jobs and has also accepted over 1,000 applications.
The Los Angeles program places veterans in city agencies for 12 to 24 months of on-the-job training programs.
ONLINE VETERANS HELP CENTER: An interactive gateway to information on a host of subjects of interest to veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families has been initiated by the United Spinal Association. The Web site address is: www.VetsFirst.org.
Organization President Paul J. Tobin described the site as "a user-friendly, interactive way for veterans to receive practical and expert advice on any veteran- related issue, including the transition from military servicemember to civilian status, VA and other federal benefits and programs, healthcare services and eligibility requirements."