Queens Gazette

Senior Spotlight

Bill Which OKs Access-A-Ride Service Between Q-N Awaits Paterson's Action

Eastern Queens lawmakers just successfully completed a two-year fight pushing a bill through the state legislature which would expand Access-A-Ride bus service for seniors and the disabled between Queens and Nassau Counties.

“After sustaining two consecutive vetoes on state legislation by two different governors that would have made the necessary changes, I am pleased today we are now moving forward with a new plan for residents of Queens who rely on Access-A-Ride travel just over the border into Nassau County for doctor visits and medical care,” state Senator Frank Padavan (R- C Bellerose) stated referring to the bipartisan bill which was passed.

Assemblymember Mark Weprin (D- Little Neck), who guided the bill through the Democratic-controlled Assembly, commented:

“Access-A-Ride users will finally be able to access doctors’ offices, hospitals and other destinations just over the Nassau County border. The seniors and disabled people who need to reach those locations are the ones we have been fighting for.”

During the past two years, the Padavan- Weprin bill had passed the legislature but was vetoed by Governors George Pataki and Eliot Spitzer on technical grounds, Padavan explained.

But during the past few months the lawmakers had worked with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and the federal Transit Administration, a unit of the federal Department of Transportation, to remove the obstacles that would serve the following areas if Governor David Paterson signs their bill:

•In Nassau County, Middle Neck Road in Great Neck to Lakeville Road; east along the Long Island Expressway service road to New Hyde Park Road; south on New Hyde Park Road to Jericho Turnpike; west on Jericho to Covert Avenue; south to Covert Avenue to Meacham Avenue; south on Meacham to Dutch Broadway; west on Dutch Broadway to North Fletcher Avenue; south on North Fletcher to West Merrick Road; west on West Merrick to South Central Avenue; south on Mill Road to Peninsula Boulevard; southwest on Peninsula to Franklin Avenue to Broadway; southwest on Broadway to Auerbach Lane; south on Auerbach to Hollywood Crossing; southeast on Hollywood to Ocean Avenue; southwest on Ocean to Tanglewood Crossing; southeast on Tanglewood to Willow Way; south on Willow to Causeway; south on Causeway to Beach Road, and Vernon Boulevard from Bay Boulevard to Ocean Boulevard in Atlantic Beach.

This route will touch areas that include North Shore-Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park and medical centers in Great Neck and Lake Success, the lawmakers said. The route will also provide for residents of Northeast Queens communities seeking contiguous Nassau communities.

At present, pending the signing into law of the Padavan- Weprin bill, whenever Access-A-Ride passengers from Queens need to reach destinations within Nassau County, they have to disembark, wait for Nassau service and then ride to their destinations in Nassau and back. In most instances, Weprin and Padavan said, “This inefficiency would unnecessarily cause a burden and increase travel time for disabled and senior passengers.”

The change in the route between Northeast Queens and Nassau now depends on Paterson.

NYC HOSPITALS FACE $1.2 B MEDICAID CUT: As of next Sunday, teaching hospitals in New York City and state are facing a $1.2 billion cut in federal payments into the state’s Medicaid program which pays for training new doctors in the state’s private hospitals and New York City municipal hospitals.

In Queens, the huge cutback will be felt mostly in Elmhurst Hospital Center, part of the municipal hospital system. The Bush presidential administration had placed a moratorium on payments into that phase of the state’s Medicaid program which ends on May 25. It contends Medicaid funds are not legally available for the doctor training program. The president has threatened to veto any vote by Congress authorizing continuation of the teacher training funds. Municipal hospital officials argue doctors-in-training are a major source of medical care in hospitals in poor communities.

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D- New York), who has a bill pending to authorize continuation of the doctor training program, said severing it would be “a dagger through the heart of the city’s teacher training hospitals”.

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