Two pieces of legislation protect senior rights, says Sen. Ritchie
Tuesday, May 8, 2012 - 2:24 pm

To the Editor:

When you hit retirement age things are supposed to get easier, right? You finally have time to sit back and relax—go on that trip you’ve always wanted to take, have the grand kids over for a long visit, start a new hobby.

But, surprisingly, there are people in New York who want to make things harder on our state’s senior citizens.

I know that many of you are struggling to get by on fixed incomes. That’s why I’m doing my part to help seniors afford their basic needs.

When it comes to a roof over your head, I’m making every effort to ensure homeowners in my district qualify for important tax breaks—like the Enhanced STAR benefit.

Last month, a bill I co-sponsored making it easier for senior citizens to renew their Enhanced STAR property tax savings each year passed in the Senate.

The measure, would allow most seniors to use a simplified renewal form, rather than the current, longer form that is used by all STAR applicants, including those under 65 who qualify for the Basic STAR program.

Then there’s your health. If you’re like most senior citizens you remember the headlines last year—funding for EPIC; our state's Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage co-payment assistance program had been slashed.

I heard from many of you about the significant impact this was having on your lives and your budgets.

That’s why I’m proud to say that this year’s budget provides $30.6 million to restore the EPIC program.

Under the new plan—going into effect January 1—prescriptions will continue to be paid by Medicare Part D, but EPIC will pay the Medicare Part D co-payment, which will range from $3 to no more than $20.

This EPIC restoration was a budget priority for me and my fellow Senate Republicans.

As your State Senator, I look forward to continuing to help make living easier, and more affordable for everyone in my district—including our senior citizens.

State Sen. Patty Ritchie, Heuvelton