New law a step toward better senior health care When I...


April 29, 2001

New law a step toward better senior health care

When I was a commissioner for the Anne Arundel County Housing Authority, I experienced first-hand the dilemma of senior citizens having to make the hard choice between buying food or prescription drugs. Many seniors in my district have been calling me for help. It is a helpless feeling that, as a member of the County Council, I have no power over this issue. However, this year I read about five bills, proposed by the Maryland Senate to help the elderly with prescription costs. These bills were amended to one, Senate Bill 236 sponsored by Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. SB 236, as amended, incorporated the best points of all the bills striving to provide some prescription relief to the elderly.

At this point I took action by contacting my fellow council members to join me in writing to our state representatives. Councilmen Pamela Beidle, Daniel Klosterman and I sent a letter urging their support and passage of SB 236. I would like to thank Senate President Miller, Sen. Perry Sfikas, D-Baltimore County, Sen. Paula Hollinger, D-Baltimore County, and Sen. Thomas McClain Middleton, D-Charles County, for their various bills to bring a short-term remedy for our seniors, as well as Del. Michael Busch, D-Anne Arundel, and House Speaker Casper Taylor, D-Allegany County, who made this issue their pet project on the House side of the General Assembly.

Limited to two years, the [new law] provides an insurance program to help 30,000 low-income senior citizens with the cost of their medicine by offering a $10 monthly premium in order to receive up to $1,000 a year in prescriptions. In addition, the bill funds an expansion of the MEDBANK program, which provides a link between needy Marylanders to some free medicines, provided by manufacturers. This could serve an additional 20,000 individuals. Finally, [it] directs state officials to seek federal permission to create a program to allow approximately 100,000 elderly Marylanders to receive one-third off the price of their prescription medicines.

It should be noted that this is a temporary solution to a federal problem. The pressure must be kept on Congress so that the problem of prescription coverage provided for seniors with or without Medicare coverage becomes the No. 1 priority of this new administration. To that end, I would like some volunteers to work with our office to monitor this issue. You may reach my office at 410-222- 1401.

Shirley Murphy


The writer is the chairman of the Anne Arundel County Council

Federal government's `gift' officers carry price

How many governors and mayors are trying to figure out how many state or city employees they are going to have to lay off or how much they are going to raise taxes to pay for those "gift" cops they got from the federal government?

If the Democrats had come into the front door and said, "We want you to lay off workers or raise taxes so that you can hire 100,000 new cops," how many do you think would have been hired? So they came in the back door, and governors and mayors thought they were getting a gift from the government!

When this came up, I wrote to congressman and senators and told them this was a scam on the American taxpayers, maybe now they believe me?

America has turned into a land of "Brooklyn Bridge" buyers, all it took was a "con man" in Washington, D.C., by the name of Bill Clinton!

Bill Williams

Glen Burnie

13th high school needed for growing area

In Stephanie Desmon's article "Panel urges deleting school from budget,"(April 25), attorney Thomas M. Hennessy, chairman of the Planning Advisory Board, made disturbing comments. Mr. Hennessy made the following published comment regarding the 13th high school, "Last year, there was not a breath about it. This year, they want to start funding it in [fiscal year] '03 and have it done in [fiscal year] '05."

Where has Mr. Hennessy been vacationing for the past few years? Does he read current local newspapers; watch the nightly "local" news? For over 4 1/2 years there has been a vocal group from Crofton addressing the county and the school board regarding a 13th high school. As it has been stated in numerous forms of media in the past, the Anne Arundel County School System has owned property next to Crofton Middle School for over 25 years. I would think that the school system would build a school on property it already owns. The Planning Advisory Board, which Mr. Hennessy chairs, recommends that the planning for the 13th high school should be pushed back to the fifth year of the five-year plan. This would mean the school could not possibly open until at least 2009.

Over the past 25 years, the high school-age children of Crofton have been subjected to split shift days at Arundel High School due to overcrowding and bus stop pickups as early as 6:15 a.m. Now our community has our children split between two schools, Arundel and South River.

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