New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - November 26, 2003, New Braunfels, Texas
From Staff and Wire Reports
WASHINGTON —The Senate Tuesday approved the most sweeping changes to Medicare since its creation in 1965, including a new prescription drug benefit for 40 million older and disabled Americans.
The 54-44 vote sends the bill to President George W. Bush, who is eager to sign it into law.
U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio, voted for the bill.
“It’s not a perfect bill,” Smith said Tuesday afternoon. "I voted for it because, in the long run, I think it’s goiiigjiq help many of my constituents who have to pay high prices for prescription drugs. It’ll be substantial for seniors who now have to pay hundreds and thousands of dollars and, in some cases, can’t pay.’’
Prescription costs — not previously covered by Medicare — have been rising at two to three times the inflation rate.
Supporters said the $395 billion measure, which gives private insurers a large new role in health care for seniors, was a long overdue change for the . 38-year-old Medicare program.
Drug coverage won’t begin until 2006, although seniors next year will be able to purchase a drug discount card officials said could reduce pharmacy bills by 15 to 25 percent.
Seniors “will finally have the prescription drug coverage they need and the choices they deserve,” Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn. said. “At the same time, it preserves
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FRONTand CenterSenate passes measure seniors hope will
Ease the pain of drug costs
Plan wont take effect
Loyce Thomas, right, talks with Walgreens service clerk Stacy Moreno while paying for her prescriptions. Thomas says she spends at least $250 a month on medicine.
Walgreens official: Bill a step in right direction
By Ron Moloney
Loyce Thomas doesn't know if she’ll be around long enough to benefit from Medicare changes about to be signed into law.
Moreover, she doesn't know if anyone else will benefit, either.
“It sounded like there were too many gives and takes — too many pros and cons involved,” she said Tuesday afternoon while waiting for two prescriptions to be filled at the New Braunfels Walgreens.
“Itll be good and bad, like anything else,” Thomas said. “It’s my opinion it’s not going to be something most of us can work with or benefit from.”
Thomas, of Canyon Lake, gets seven prescriptions filled each
month. She uses a supplemental policy she got through the American Association of Retired Persons.
Still, she pays more than $250 per month out-of-pocket.
“That’s off your Social Security,” she said.
Thomas’s cautious attitude was shared Tuesday by health care industry officials.
Michael Polcin, Walgreens spokesman, said it was early to
comment on the bill's particulars, because the regulations that woultf put it into effect have not been written.
“We have some reservations, but we do support it because it’s an important first step to take,” Polcin said. “Right now, our senior patients have few legitimate alternatives to make prescriptions more affordable. This bill at least begins the process of addressing their needs.”
Walgreens’ biggest concern, Polcin said, is that, while the bill has language to protect patients’ rights to use their neighborhood pharmacy as opposed to getting prescriptions by mail, it might not go far enough.
McKenna Memorial Hospital officials did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Greers great in red
Quarterback leads the Cougars against Sharyland in regtanAl
I Annual Thanksgiving Feast. 11 am to 2 pm.. Westside
Comm unity Center, 2932 1-35. New Braunfels; 629-2011. Delivery available
■ Communitywide Thanksgiving Dinner. 11 am. to 2 p.m.. Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church. 138 W. Austin Street' 625-1562. Delivery service available.
■ Ryan's Family Steakhouse. 10 arn. to 7 p.m. 485 E. Business 35. 606-0096.
Restaurants, churches provide meal options
From Staff Reports
If New Braunfelsers find themselves without a place to celebrate Thanksgiving, local churches and restaurants will offer a meal with all the trimmings.
Paying customers can enjoy a buffet at Ryan’s Family Steakhouse in New Braunfels.
Turkey, dressing, candied yams and all the trimmings will be available IO a.m. to 7
The community is invited to two Thanksgiving feasts provided by local organizations.
Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church and the Westside Community Center are opening their doors from 11 am to 2 p.m. Thursday.
Delivery will be available for those who can’t make it to the events.
Rosie Gallegos, left, Sally Silva and Diana Alanis unpack food and cooking supplies Tuesday at the Westside Community Center in preparation for Thursday's Thanksgiving dinner.
County won’t help fund CHC
Officials: $100,000 loss won’t set project back
By Dylan Jimtnaz
Guadalupe County commissioners Tuesday opted out of a $100,000 funding pledge for the Central Texas Technology Center.
The decision comes after Guadalupe County commissioners joined New Braunfels, Seguin and Comal County officials in breaking ground on the project in April.
Like many local governments,
Guadalupe County is facing financial problems.
But they are not taking a proactive approach to dealing with the problem, said Michael Meek,
Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce president.
“Our philosophy is to invest in things that will increase our revenue,” Meek said.
Guadalupe County is facing a similar situation as New Braunfels. The residential tax base is growing faster than the commercial tax base, Meek said.
The CTIC would help to change that, he said.
“It would have been a wise investment for them to help,” Meek said. “It s a little incredulous to think people can ride in the wagon and not help pull it.”
The center, which will cost $4 million, will open to students in May 2004 with basic classes and will offer a number of technology-based training opportunities next fall.
The decision will affect Guadalupe County’s involvement in the project because it will not have a place on the CTTC board.
“When it comes to making choices on the center, the people of Guadalupe County will not have a seat at the table," New Braunfels Mayor Adam Cork said.
When commissioners discussed giving the $ 100,000 in cash or in-kind construction, the tonner Guadalupe County court was in its budget process, Meek said. The new court was simply not as supportive.
• “It was never a formal thing because of the timing,’ Meek said. “To me, this is a bump in the road that has no impact on the success of the center.”
Guadalupe County Precinct 2 Commissioner Cesareo Guadarrama asked the court to pay the $100,000, reminding the court CTTC representatives approached
See CTTC. Page 3A
“It’s a little incredulous
I to think peo-| pie can ride I in the wagon I and not help pull it.”
chamber of I commerce presidentHappy Thanksqivine ■— w- «r- —— J-^