Rego Parks Constance Cowen, 70, takes medication for high blood pressure and osteoporosis and said the escalating cost of prescription drugs across the country is a disgusting situation.
Hers was just one of the voices U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Forest Hills) heard during a town hall symposium about Medicare, social security and prescription drug coverage last Thursday morning at the Rego Park Jewish Center.
Joined by Max Richtman, executive vice president of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, Weiner answered questions about the futures of Social Security and Medicare and laid out his role in the fight to make sure seniors have access to quality, affordable health care.
Weiner paid particular attention to President George Bushs proposal to privatize social security, a move he is firmly against.
The Social Security system is the one government program that has worked exactly as designed since the day it was created, he said. It was not designed to make people wealthy, but to make sure seniors arent in poverty.
Calling seniors the least impoverished group, Weiner said Social Security has performed its function exactly right and said there were no reasons to make the drastic changes proposed by Bush.
Bush has suggested allowing Americans to redirect their payroll taxes into private accounts similar to 401(k) plans and Individual Retirement Accounts. Supporters of the presidents plan argue it would give workers ownership and control over their retirement funds and increase their rates of return.
But Richtman called privatizing Social Security a bad idea that would harm seniors. There are some issues because of heavy retirement, but that does not mean were in a crisis and need to turn the system inside-out with privatization, Richtman said.
Many seniors expressed concern about the rising cost of prescription drug coverage. They got help from self-described activist Lynne Rubin, of Rego Park, who is the public advocate of the Forest Hills Senior Center. Rubin, who said she is in her 70s, informed the gathering about Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage, which is a state program where seniors pay a deductible for prescription drugs based on income levels.
We want the drug companies to be profitable and develop new kinds of medication, but we also want seniors to be able to afford drugs, Weiner said.
At the conclusion of the town hall meeting, Richtman presented the congressman with a pair of boxing gloves in a symbolic tribute to the congressmans role as a fighter to preserve quality and affordable health care for seniors.
Reach reporter Daniel Massey by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 156.
©2002 Community News Group
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