Many seniors can't afford 20 percent 'co-insurance'
I am a hematologist/oncologist in practice in South Buffalo. I have just found out that in November 2010, Medicare notified the Medicare Advantage Plans that they could pass on 20 percent of the cost of Part B drugs to their patients. Univera Senior Choice and Senior Blue have done this and call it a "co-insurance." Encompass 65 has refused to do so (thank you Independent Health).
Part B drugs include all of the expensive drugs used for cancer, blood disorders, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis that are given in an outpatient setting. I am told that even patients going to Roswell Park will have this burden. A 20 percent co-insurance could cost the patient thousands of dollars per month. Co-insurance amounts to a denial of care because many patients can't afford it and I am very concerned that seniors will drop out of treatment with dire consequences.
I am a senior and I am outraged. I have contacted my legislators and have e-mailed President Obama, but unless there is a large, large number of people doing the same, I am afraid that no one will listen and no one will help us.
Michael Snyderman, M.D.
How will GE executive help revive economy?
The latest announcement from the White House really has me scratching my head. President Obama has appointed Jeffrey R. Immelt, chief executive officer of GE, to head a panel to "kick the economy into overdrive." GE contributed millions to Obama's presidential campaign, then in turn received millions back in stimulus funds. What did GE do? It closed its U.S. light bulb factories and built new ones in China. It laid off thousands of U.S. workers. Is this really the man we need to head our economy?
Remove cap on earnings taxed for Social Security
The new lower Social Security tax percentage this year will benefit all taxpayers, but especially low- and middle-income people and small businesses. Now is the time to make this reduction permanent while also removing the ceiling on earnings taxed for Social Security. This would eliminate any future problem with Social Security funds, while placing the burden on those who could easily afford the extra tax such as CEOs, entertainers and professional sports players. This increase would affect only those earning in excess of $150,000 per year. Write your representatives in Congress today.
Richard A. Olday
NFTA should keep Theater Station open
Recent news items about the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority show a transit system that contradicts itself. Trains and buses have recorded a 5 percent increase in riders, according to the Jan. 21 News. The NFTA board of commissioners credits implementation of changes in Metro routes and schedules, as well as recent hikes in gasoline prices. So far, so good. The changes in bus and train schedules are boosting ridership. Smart, very smart.
But on the other hand, the NFTA continues to go along with the planned destruction of the Theater Station in the 600 block of Main Street, as part of an effort to return vehicles to downtown Main Street. This demolition plan was excluded from The News report of the Buffalo Place meeting published Jan. 20 -- an important omission because this will hurt customer service and discourage ridership.
So, returning cars to Main Street means that more customers will find the Metro Rail to be less useful -- and this at a time when ridership is up? Doesn't the NFTA have a mandate to advocate on behalf of its customers who use the Theater Station? Don't these riders deserve the best service possible? Not so smart. Eliminating the Theater Station will discourage transit riders.
The design for returning vehicles to downtown Main Street shows that there is plenty of room for all modes of transportation, including all train stations. Be smart, NFTA, all the time. Provide excellent service for more riders, and keep the Theater Station open.
Citizens for Regional Transit
Cutting library funding shows lack of foresight
It was disturbing to read The News' report on the Buffalo Central Library "hastily discarding thousands of books" for a new tagging system. It seems more relevant to report it a reaction to massive budget cuts and a rushed attempt to make ends meet. The slashing of educational ways and means in our area completely lacks any foresight.
The article implies these books were thrown away. I don't know if this is exactly the case, but I believe they could have been sold at least for a dollar or so each. I've spent countless hours in the Central Library and have always considered it a place where any person could access just about anything necessary to escalate higher learning outside of a college campus. In comparison to other local public libraries, none shines as brightly.
I wonder if many county residents know of the Mark Twain Room, and other memorabilia from around the world with countless rare books to have made their way to the display rooms there. I once saw an original Gutenberg Bible displayed there. Countless students use the facility for research to gather factual information for academic papers, whether it be high school or college if not post-graduate work. Sections dedicated to the sciences, philosophy, architecture and so on abound throughout the peaceful atmosphere of one of downtown Buffalo's real treasures.
Our leaders, both state and local, have cut educational opportunities in a variety of ways limiting future generations' access to many professions: foresight. We, the voters, elected representatives who are creating a generation that will never know college, thus leaving a blue-collar society in an area that is limited in that scope of decent jobs. Then comes the hindsight.
Good deed is proof honest people remain
In reply to the letter, "Honest people seem to be few and far between," yes, there are honest people left. A few days ago, I left Jubilee on Lake Avenue in Blasdell in a hurry to visit my very sick daughter at Roswell Park. In my haste to get there, I left my purse in a shopping cart in the parking lot. When I realized I had left my purse, I called the store. Guess what? A young woman had turned in my purse to the office, contents intact. I do not know her name, but God bless her for not adding to my distress of a very sick daughter.
Viola R. Syta