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Lewes, Delaware
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September 1, 2006     Cape Gazette
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September 1, 2006

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J m it CAPE GAZETTE - Friday, September I - Monday, September 4, 2006 - 29 Local seniors say Mq dicare prescription plan works well Carper attends Cape Senior Center pancake breakfast By Jim Westhoff Cape Gazette staff Local seniors who turned out for a pancake breakfast at the Cape Henlopen Senior Center said they are glad Sen. Tom Carper voted for the Medicare prescription drug plan in 2003. While some people still have reservations about the benefit, many local seniors say the pro- gram is working well for them. Carper attended the breakfast to discuss the concerns of local sen- iors. Rehoboth beach retiree Cookie Brusnigham is a fan of the pro- gram. "Yesterday, I got a $1,000 worth of medicine for $49," she said. "Last week, I also got a notice from the Social Security that they were refunding some money I paid. I think the system works well." Nancy Rams of Lewes was delivering the pancakes and sausages to the customers. "Right now it&apos;s wonderful," she said of the prescription benefit. "It was not tough to get signed up. Not at all. I went directly with State Farm and signed up with Humana. They did all the work for me." As he poured syrup on his pan- cakes, Ron Jones of Rehoboth Beach said he has had a good experience with the drug benefit. "I don't understand why there are so many complaints in the news- papers about this system," he said. "You can't expect the sys- tem to pay 100 percent of every- thing. I'm paying less now than I used to." In November 2003, Carper and about 10 other Democratic sena- tors broke ranks with party lead- ership and voted to approve a pre- scription drug benefit for seniors under Medicare. Sen. Joe Biden voted no on the plan. The bill passed 54-44, and was quickly signed into law by President George W. Bush. When the program began, in November 2005, many people reported problems• "I think this year was the hard- est," said Fran Hale, outreach coordinator for the senior center. 20C Wins & Steamed Shrimp M0n.- Fri. 3-6 1 O-Close Portions of Prime Hook to close temlNly The easternmost four miles of Prime Hook Creek at Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge will be closed on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from Sept. 2-14 and every day from Oct. 1 through March 15, due to hunting and other management purposes. The westernmost portion of the creek will be open year-round. Access for boats and canoes is from the boat ramp located behind Brumbley's Family Park off of Route 1 near Waples Pond. For more information, check out the canoe trail brochure or call the refuge office at 684-8419. "The government stepped in and started telling everybody what to do and people went into a panic. The first three months were awful. Now, I think after a year under their belt, there will be more peo- ple understanding the program." Director of Cape Henlopen Senior Center Juanita Morch said she is still not entirely sold on the program. "I have mixed emotions about it," she said. "Some are real happy with it, others are not. We had a number of people who were kind of dependent on my staff to help people complete things. We had to call in their prescriptions for them. It was a lot of work for us," she said. The plan has some problems, said Carl June, an owner of Cape Pharmacy in Lewes• "It's been really difficult for people to understand," June said. In the first days of the program, when the Medicare phone lines were all tied up, people were unsure of what to do, but they needed medicine. Cape Pharmacy distributed some medications on credit. "We were advancing med- ication in anticipation of getting claims approved because of some glitches in the program," June said. Now that the system is working, June said many seniors are still not aware of the gap in prescrip- tion coverage. Called the donut hole, seniors are responsible for drug costs over $2,000 annually• They must pay out of pocket everything beyond $2,000 until the bills reach $5,000, when catastrophic benefits kick in. "They seem to not understand how that works," June said. "We've had a number of people who have used up that $2,000 ben- efit and have fallen into that hole. Generally they don't seem to understand what is happening." During his visit, Carper said there were some problems at first, but the prescription plan is work- ing out for Delaware's seniors. "We have a staff person designat- ed full time to deal with those Jim Westhoff photo John Brady, a retiree living in Rehoboth Beach, right, speaks with Sen. Tom Carper during the Cape Henlopen Senior Center Pancake Breakfast. "We talked about how long we've lived here and his time as a Navy flyer. We didn't talk about polities at all," Brady said. A GOOD FENCE MAKES A GOOD NEIGHBOR Free Estimates, Custom Cedar & Vin rl Fence FIRST CHOICE FENCE COMPANY LLC (302) 644-7176 Licensed & Insured • Serving Sussex County Owner Operated From Sales To Installation problems," Carper said. "For the first couple of months this year she was real busy, but then it start- ed to die down and we still have calls from time to time but we are getting past the steep learning curve•" • One problem with the Medicare prescription plan that many critics fault is that the government is Veteran's Administration, which negotiates for lower prices. Carper supports changes to that aspect of the Medicare plan. "I support legislation that would not mandate that the Secretary of Health and Human Services nego- tiate but would give the secretary the authority," Carper said. "I see that as valuable, holding the feet specifically prohibited from nego- tO the fire to the private firms so tiating with drug companies for lower prices. In a report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research, researchers found that Medicare was paying more than twice as much for some drugs than the they know that if they don't keep prices down, there is always the possibility that the secretary could negotiate directly with them." For more information on the Medicare prescription drug plan, visit I-< ------------------------'l I WET BASEMENTS STINK !! I Mold, mildew and water leaking into your basement causes health I and foundation damage. What can be done to fix the problem? | Allstate American Waterproofing is an honest, hardworking local | | company. We will give you a FREE evaluation and estimate and a fair price. We have repaired thousands of basements in the area; we | I can provide local references. 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