2005-08-31 / Seniors

Proposal On S.S. Private Accounts Shunts Aside Bush’s Plan

An influential Republican in the House of Representatives is preparing a plan to create private accounts in the Social Security system, but it’s not in support of President George W. Bush’s proposal, which has run into a stone wall in Congress, according to reports in two major dailies yesterday.

Meanwhile, the president made an appearance in California on Monday and did not mention the reportedly new proposal while insisting he was still trying to get his own plan enacted into law.

In a speech at a senior center, the president urged seniors to sign up for the new Medicare drug prescription coverage program and, referring to the Social Security proposal, said, “I haven’t changed my mind since I came here to talk about Social Security.”

The story appearing in yesterday’s New York Times , quoted the president saying about his Social Security proposal: “I’m going to keep working this issue.”

According to a report in Newsday , the private accounts proposal is being prepared by Congressmember Bill Thomas (R–California), chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee.

Shunting aside the president’s plan, which would permit some Social Security program members to put part of their program payments into private accounts that would be invested in stocks and bonds, Thomas’ proposal would put surplus Social Security revenues into private accounts. However, workers would not be allowed to contribute to private accounts.

Thomas decided to create a plan for private accounts because Democrats, joined by some Republicans, have blocked the president’s proposal.

However, the story said, Democrats, who are opposed to private accounts in any form, are also opposed to Thomas’ plan. Thomas’ proposal is expected to be announced formally in several weeks.

URGE SENIORS IN EPIC TO JOIN MEDICARE DRUG PROGRAM: Governor George Pataki and officials of the state EPIC program, which provides prescription drugs at discounted prices to eligible seniors, invited the state’s senior citizens to join the Medicare prescription drug coverage program which will begin next January 1.

In a mailing to seniors throughout the state, officials of the Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage (EPIC) program urged all seniors, including those now covered under EPIC, to join the new federal program in order to get greater coverage and savings.

EPIC “leads the nation in helping its seniors to pay for prescription drugs” the EPIC flyer said. It added that presently more than 350,000 EPIC enrollees are saving money on the medicines they need to stay healthy.

PREZ APPOINTS: President George W. Bush has appointed Bella Dinh–Zarr, American Automobile Association (AAA) director of traffic safety policy, to the 22-member advisory committee for the White House Conference on Aging which will meet in Washington December 11 to 14.

The conference is held every 10 years. Experts and advocates in the field of senior affairs make policy recommendations to the president and Congress on issues such as medical care, transportation, housing, Medicare, Social Security and the full range of services for the aged.

Dinh–Zarr said after being appointed, “I plan to use this position to bring national attention to the important role of transportation in ensuring the quality of life for our nation’s seniors.”

AAA stated in a recent issue of its magazine that the appointment of the organization’s safety policy official was a major milestone in the organization’s Lifelong Safe Mobility” campaign, which is designed to help seniors stay safely mobile for as long as possible. It focuses on senior-friendly road design, driver screening tools, vehicle safety improvements and alternative transportation options.

AARP FLUSHING MEETING: AARP Flushing Chapter No. 4158 will meet at Church-On-the-Hill, 167-07 35th Ave., Flushing, Tuesday, September 13 at noon. Mike McLennan and his Jazz Elders will entertain. Visitors are welcome.

SENIOR CENTER SCHEDULE: Rego Park Senior Center of Forest Hills Community House offers a number of special events and programs for seniors. The center will hold a Backyard Labor Day Barbecue on Friday, September 9 at 11:30 a.m., with hamburgers, hot dogs, fish, rice and watermelon included on the menu, all for $2.25 per person. A Moon Festival Celebration luncheon will be held on Thursday, September 14 at noon, followed by a social dance; admission $2.25.

The regular programs offered include creative arts on Mondays from 1 to 3 p.m., blood pressure screening on the second and fourth Wednesday of every month, 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.; social dancing every Wednesday at 1 p.m., and a class in floral arrangements and design on Thursdays at 10 a.m.

All events take place at the Rego Park Senior Center, 93-29 Queens Blvd., Rego Park. For more information, call Angela King at 718-896-8511.

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