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Letter to the Editor

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Know What You’re Breathing Pay attention to the 2012 American Lung Association State of the Air Report

Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

As a pulmonologist practicing in Delaware for three decades, I have seen patients suffering from a variety of lung diseases. I’ve seen my patients struggle to breathe and struggle to understand why they could not breathe. I’ve met them in the hospital and in the emergency room, as their struggles to breathe became near impossibility. What I have not seen in all of these years is a decrease in the number of people suffering from lung disease.

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Senator Buono Letter to the Editor - Cervical Cancer Month

Dear Editor:

There were no flashing lights or red flags that let 4,000 women across this country know that cervical cancer was coming.
Most of these women – mothers, sisters, daughters, and aunts – felt no pain and lived normally unaware of the disease that in a matter of time would take their lives. Most of these women – the majority of whom were under the age of 65 – are survived by friends and family, neighbors and co-workers who loved them and miss their presence daily.

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Fears About Nation Close to Default

Dear Editor,

The nation did not default, but I’m still worried. In the final deal to raise the debt ceiling, Congress agreed to create a “super committee” to reduce the national debt an additional $1.5 trillion. Judging by how difficult it was to find compromise with the risk of economic catastrophe at hand, I cannot imagine that this committee will develop a more even-handed approach. With automatic cuts to popular domestic and military programs hanging over their heads, Congress is bound to put Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block.

Few in Congress seem to acknowledge that Social Security is fully funded by dedicated payroll taxes, and Medicare has already been trimmed as part of health care reform.

In New Jersey alone, 1.4 million residents receive Social Security income, and of this 22 percent rely upon it for at least 90% of their income. By looking at these programs as faceless expenditures, Congress is playing a game with people’s lives. If Congress does not take Social Security and Medicare off the table as AARP has insisted, I can tell you the outcome: We lose.

Madlyn Fergang
AARP Outreach Volunteer
Monroe Township

For confirmation, please contact:

C. Brian McGuire
Interim Communications Director
AARP New Jersey
101 Rockingham Row | Princeton, NJ 08540
Office: 609.452.3921 (x13921) | Cell: 215.776.0574
Fax: 609.987-4634 | Email: bmcguire@aarp.org

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Bergen County Division of Veterans Services

Dear Editor;

I am a former 8 year employee of the Bergen County Division of Veterans Services who received a 45 day layoff notice dated April 15, 2011, stating that my full time position as a Interviewer Veterans Service Bureau had been eliminated for reasons of economy and efficiency. What is ironic that on April 14, 2011, I was one of 14 Bergen County Employees honored by the Bergen County Executive and the Board of Chosen Freeholders, in honor of National County Government Month as a Veteran of 3 years active duty in the United States Coast Guard. This is the same body of County lawmakers who had decided to eliminate my job title for matters of economy and redundancy.

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Cutting Money for Nursing Home

Dear Editor,
Everyone understands the need to pinch pennies in a bad economy but it is crucial to consider what is “penny wise and pound foolish.” Governor Christie may pat himself on the back for creating the largest government surplus in years but it will be at the cost of programs supporting New Jersey’s most vulnerable. The most draconian cut is a proposal to take $29 million from already struggling nursing homes. To make matters worse, since the federal government matches state funding for nursing homes dollar for dollar, nursing homes will actually take a double hit by this decision.

This is the point where pinching pennies will cost more in the long run and at greater expense to struggling individuals and communities who may not be able to handle it. The people affected are not the affluent members of society. They are hard workers of the nursing home industry who care for our loved ones. They are frail parents and grandparents who cared for us for decades and cannot take care of themselves anymore. They are granddaughters like me who watch helplessly as nursing homes struggle to care for their grandmothers. AARP has already been fighting tooth and nail to protect us and it is time for legislators to stand up with them to protect this community from bearing the full weight of a bad economy.

Sincerely,
Jessica Cheng
Concerned Granddaughter
Cranbury, NJ

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Cutting Medicare and Social Security

To the Editor:
Medicare and Social Security are cornerstones of retirement for 47 million seniors. In New Jersey, there are over 1.3 million Medicare beneficiaries and more than 1.44 million Social Security beneficiaries, 22 percent of whom rely on their monthly checks for 90 percent or more of their income.
Slashing these programs to balance the budget on their backs violates an American promise to our nation’s seniors.
Seniors need peace of mind. They need to know that Medicare guarantees affordable health care. They need to know that Social Security is always there. They need to know that their hard-earned benefits will be honored. They do not need new economic burdens.
Reducing the deficit and controlling government spending are important. Arbitrarily cutting Medicare and Social Security is not the way to do this. Limiting how much care Medicare will provide could force seniors to pay higher premiums and co-pays. Trimming Social Security payments denies seniors money they currently count on.
Political leaders must know that to seniors, Medicare and Social Security are more than line items in the federal budget. They are pillars of stability. They offer health coverage and income to live on in retirement. They are the foundation of the American Dream.
Recent proposals to target Medicare and Social Security for harmful cuts are unfair to America’s seniors who have earned the peace of mind these programs guarantee. Instead of putting seniors’ health and income security in jeopardy, politicians need to find a better way to solve our nation’s budget problems.
Sy Larson
AARP New Jersey State President
East Brunswick
For confirmation, please contact:

Jane H. Margesson
Communications Director
AARP New Jersey
101 Rockingham Row - Forrestal Village
Princeton, NJ 08540
(609) 452-3908 office
(609) 571-0526 cell
(609) 987-4634 fax
jmargesson@aarp.org

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An Honest Politician

To whom it may concern,

The 2012 election is on it's way and all political pundits are beginning to question who the Republican Nominee will be. Most agree that the candidates that have declared are not exactly desirable and would have difficulty winning in the overall election. The healthcare plan of Massachusetts is considered to be Romney's albatross. The longevity of Hayley Barbour's time in Washington according to some will be his downfall as well. One candidate however would put up a good fight and if elected would have the experience needed to address the issues that America faces today. That candidate is Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana. Governor Daniels has experience, having served in two presidential administrations: The Reagan and The Bush Administrations. He also has the business experience needed to truly understand the economy, having served in a top position at the pharmaceutical company, Eli Lilly and Company. To top it all off, his tenure as Governor has been extremely successful. According to a poll taken earier this year, Mitch Daniels approval rating was at 75 percent. He, in his time as Governor, has enacted a conservative healthcare reform, education reform, prison reform along with many other initiatives. The irony though is despite the fact that Governor Daniels is so suited to be President, he has shown reluctance to run for the office. In order to encourage him into the race, a nets-root organization called, The Students for Daniels Draft Initiative has grown throughout the country. The organization started off in Yale University and now has over 50 chapters in colleges throughout the nation. As a recent Paramus High School graduate and Paramus resident,  I urge all of those who are dissatisfied with current politics to look into Governor Daniels record. If you see, what I see, I ask that you visit the Students for Daniels site and put your name in for the petition asking him to run. The country is facing many issues, economically and abroad and in my opinion, Governor Daniels might just be the man to fix them. 

Sincerely, 

Shawn Stern

Pennsylvania State Chairman

Students for Daniels Draft Initiative

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National Volunteer Week

To the Editor:
The week of April 11th is National Volunteer Week and at AARP New Jersey, we are grateful and honored to work with more than a thousand volunteers every year. The extraordinary work of these dedicated individuals propels AARP’s mission “to serve, not to be served.” That phrase was coined by our founder, Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, more than 50 years ago and it is certainly still true today.

If you are looking for ways to volunteer in your own community, why not join an AARP chapter? There are over 90 chapters in New Jersey and they offer a wonderful opportunity to get involved in many ways. Call AARP at 1-866-542-8165 to find a chapter near you. Perhaps you are already a volunteer with AARP and if you are, we thank you whole heartedly for your hard work and commitment to the issues we address in the state and on the national level. In whatever way you choose to help others, you are making a difference and we applaud your passion.

AARP is here for you. AARP was founded in 1958 because one person, Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, believed she could help others. Today, AARP has nearly 38 million members nationwide. One person really can make a difference.

Madlyn Fergang
AARP New Jersey State Volunteer Recruiter
Monroe

For confirmation please contact:

Jane H. Margesson
Communications Director
AARP New Jersey
101 Rockingham Row - Forrestal Village
Princeton, NJ 08540
(609) 452-3908 office
(609) 571-0526 cell
(609) 987-4634 fax
jmargesson@aarp.org

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Market Competition and Consumer Choice Act

Dear Editor,

In a wired world, telephone, internet, and cable television services are essential. On March 21st, these services could be threatened. New Jersey Senators will vote on a bill which eliminates consumer protections and allows companies to cut services, dramatically increase rates and impose extra charges on these three services.

Senate Bill 2664, deceptively named the “Market Competition and Consumer Choice Act” which removes regulations for these services, could leave consumers virtually defenseless against their cost and quality of service.

The State said that one of its objectives is to keep seniors living with dignity at home. S-2664 could prove debilitating to this goal. According to an AARP survey that has recently been in the papers, four in ten older New Jerseyans worry about staying in their homes as long as possible and over two-thirds struggle with paying utilities. In addition, over 70% of older New Jerseyans still use landlines; for many, it is their only method of communication. Eliminating consumer protections and cutting services could mean they won’t be able to stay connected with families or even call a doctor during an emergency. Call your senator today and urge them to vote no on S2664.

Jane Magnus
AARP Outreach Volunteer, Lawrence Township

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PAAD and Senior Gold

Dear Editor,

AARP commends Governor Christie for supporting a budget for the state’s two pharmaceutical assistance programs, PAAD and Senior Gold. Because of healthcare reform, the state is able to increase efficiency through coordinating PAAD and Senior Gold with Medicare Part D. The resulting savings allow New Jersey to continue full funding for both programs without any reduction in eligibility or benefits. In other words, the state saves money while vulnerable disabled and older adults who rely on pharmaceutical assistance are not hurt in the process.

Efficiencies include increased enrollment of PAAD beneficiaries into Medicare Part D Low Income Subsidy, which covers almost all of their prescription costs. In addition, drug manufacturers will cover half the cost of many drugs; this reduces the doughnut hole that pharmaceutical assistance programs must pay.

On behalf of our almost 1.3 million members in New Jersey, we thank Governor Christie for setting the standard for other states. While he could have reduced funding or cut the two programs altogether, as some states are considering, he chose a plan which would balance the state’s need to close the budget deficit with its desire to protect its most vulnerable citizens. Thank you, Governor!

Marilyn Askin
Chief Legislative Advocate for AARP
Plainsboro

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Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

Letter to the Editor:

During the December holidays, many of us will be joining in family festivities where food is plentiful, but far too many of our friends and neighbors will not be so lucky. In fact, an estimated 51 million Americans do not know where their next meal will come from. In New Jersey, food pantries and soup kitchens graciously provide food for families in need.
These organizations literally save lives and should be commended for their good works. Yet, the fact remains that many of the beneficiaries of these services likely qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which provides regular payments from the federal government for families to purchase food. Each month, this program ensures that over 41 million Americans do not go hungry; however, a significant number of Garden State residents, who are eligible to receive benefits, currently do not. Before sitting down to our family feasts this holiday season, we should consider those around us who lack the resources to put food on the table. By both directly donating food and urging state officials to increase the number of eligible citizens who receive SNAP benefits, we can all work towards the goal of eradicating hunger.

Jessica Cheng
AARP Advocacy Volunteer
Cranbury
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Congress must protect seniors’ access to doctors for the long- term

To the Editor:

39 million seniors depend on Medicare. Seniors have earned their Medicare and they deserve the peace of mind that comes with being able to see the doctors they know and trust. AARP has heard from its members – whether they’re Democrats, Republicans or Independents – and they agree Congress has a responsibility to keep doctors in the Medicare program by providing a stable payment system.

More than a decade ago, Congress created a flawed system to pay Medicare doctors and they’ve been unable to agree on a permanent solution ever since. 2010 was a year of band-aid solutions and now Congress has less than a month to stop Medicare doctors from receiving a 25 percent pay cut. This could cause seniors to lose their doctors. This cannot be allowed to happen.

Time is running out. AARP is calling on Congress to give seniors some stability by stopping the cut for one year. This would provide ample time for the new Congress to put past differences aside, reach across the aisle, and find a permanent solution that makes sense.

Simply put: Congress must protect seniors’ access to doctors for the long- term.

Jane Margesson
AARP New Jersey Communications Director
Plainsboro
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Medicare Patients

On January 1, 2011, doctors who treat Medicare patients are scheduled to absorb a 25 percent pay cut – a cut that threatens the ability of seniors to see their physicians and receive the care they need. It is up to Congress to stop this pay cut and ensure that doctors are not driven out of Medicare.

On behalf of the almost 1.3 million AARP members in New Jersey and all seniors who have earned their Medicare benefits by working hard and paying into the system, I am calling on Congress to take responsibility and act to ensure that older Americans have access to the doctors they trust.

AARP is not alone in believing that the Medicare payment system is broken and requires a permanent fix. But it isn’t the flawed physician payment system that concerns so many of our members here in the Garden State and elsewhere. It is, rather, the prospect of suddenly being without a physician.

As the New Year approaches, there is one resolution that Medicare patients would like to see made by Congress: honor the commitment to Medicare patients and the physicians who care for them.

Sy Larson
AARP New Jersey State President
East Brunswick
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Seniors and Medicare

Seniors have earned their Medicare. We’ve earned the security of knowing that we can keep seeing the doctors we’ve come to trust and with whom we are comfortable after many years of treatment and checkups. Unfortunately, Congress created a flawed system to pay Medicare doctors. Unless Congress takes action to address this, seniors could lose their doctors and future generations could face having to give up the doctors they trust.

Right now, if nothing is done, Medicare doctors will receive a 25 percent pay cut beginning January 1, 2011. Congress must work together to stop this cut so seniors can continue to see their own physicians. Our elected officials have a responsibility to keep doctors in the Medicare program. Failing to act now means the cut to doctor pay will only grow larger and more and more doctors may be driven out of Medicare. This is not an acceptable situation.

AARP is committed to fighting against these doctor pay cuts. Seniors have earned the peace of mind that comes from seeing their own doctors over the course of their lifetimes and we are going to keep fighting until Congress takes action. Now is the time to find a common-sense solution.

Marilyn Askin
AARP New Jersey Chief Legislative Advocate
Monroe
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Property Tax Rebates

AARP believes that taxes should be based on an individual’s income and that property taxes should be affordable. New Jersey’s proposed state budget will eliminate Homestead Property Tax Rebates this year causing hardship for many of our most vulnerable citizens.

The loss of this rebate will affect hundreds of thousands of New Jersey residents, and many of them make less than $10,000 per year. These people rely on their rebate check to help make ends meet and the state is turning to them to help balance the budget. The people who should be responsible to pay taxes are those that can afford it.

Low-income New Jerseyans use their rebates to help pay for necessities such as food, medications, clothes, and rent. How can they be expected to pay taxes when they are struggling to get by? They need the rebate program.

AARP supports legislation to reinstate Homestead Property Tax Rebates. Low-income seniors have no alternative means to make ends meet, but the state can look elsewhere to balance its budget. It is important that we urge our state legislators to support this measure immediately.
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Volunteerism

My “good day” became a great day when I attended the African-American Heritage Parade and Festival in Weequahic Park in Newark. It was great to see the wonderfully diverse and multi-generation communities come out to celebrate and enjoy all the festivities and entertainment. I was privileged to be there as a representative of AARP New Jersey and our partnership with other local organizations made this four-day event truly special.

This parade and festival was a great example of organizations and volunteers coming together to create a forum for consumer education and cultural celebration that was truly memorable. AARP sponsored its AARP-Walgreens Wellness Tour Bus and met many new friends and potential volunteers through Create the Good, a wonderful reminder that it takes just a little to give back a lot to any community. I think every person was reminded of that all weekend long. I know we helped a lot of festival revelers find ways to connect with volunteer opportunities that will make a great difference.

Thanks to everyone for such a great event. I am already looking forward to next year’s! In the meantime, please join me and go to createthegood.org and learn about all the ways, big and small, we can continue to stay connected and make a difference in each other’s lives.
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Property Tax Rebates

by Suad Al-Rabai [jmargesson@aarp.org]

I am writing about the proposed elimination of the New Jersey Homestead property tax rebate program that is in jeopardy under the current state budget. My monthly income is very low. It is already a struggle to make ends meet and there are many in the state far worse off than me. I know that AARP and other organizations are speaking up about this issue and that is what we all need to be doing.

The proposal to eliminate the property tax rebate is going to be devastating for me. I honestly do not know what I will do. My house needs a lot of upkeep this year. All our costs are going up and it has been so helpful to have the tax rebate check each year to help make ends meet. Without it, I will lose that extra safety net.

I am hoping that the legislature will listen to people like me before the final decisions are made. Please understand that taking away the property tax rebate checks is not the only way to balance the state budget. People like me don’t have anything extra to give! We do not have financial alternatives, but the State does.
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Medical Marijuana Implementation Delay

May 27, 2010
Dear Editor,

I read the news today and it hurts. It hurts like the crash of the economy and the ensuing bailouts. I am in pain 24/7, under doctor’s care since the 80’s and the doctor still winces when he views my condition. My doctor is a man of compassion who will do what ever he can to alleviate my condition.
The only compassion I see from Mr. Christie is for the millionaires who don’t pay a fair share of the taxes. The rich pay a pittance in taxes. Why doesn’t it hurt in a real and meaningful painful way like the pain sufferers in New Jersey?
We pain sufferers have waited years for medical marijuana. Enduring last minute stalling and delays during the January 2010 NJ sessions.
New Jersey has the most restrictive law of the fourteen states, because opposition deemed it necessary. Mr. Christie stalled and delayed the bill from the inception. Now his administration has not accomplished the necessary WORK to implement the law as outlined in the bill.
Delaying implementation is a bad example of upholding and enforcing the law. The only defense by Gov. Christie is, “There has been no foot dragging”.
Yet, even the application form allowing the use of medical marijuana has not been issued. Either use the knowledge gained by the legislature sessions or use the knowledge from the other states that have allowed medical marijuana. Nothing has been done to implement the law, except to request a formal delay.
I am disappointed in the bully pulpit hypocrisy being used by Mr. Christie. Any person aquatinted with addictions knows what is addictive and marijuana is not addictive. Marijuana doesn’t cause the physical and mental problems associated with excessive drinking, overeating or other indulgences.
California is in the process of legalizing Marijuana in November it is time for New Jersey to move forward. The pain I will have to suffer during this proposed delay is not worth the inertia of this administration.

Gerald Foss
Merchantville, NJ
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TURN SIGNAL LIGHTS NEEDED

 To The Editor:

   I wrote this poem to you around 1961 and you printed it, Thank you.
It will explain itself.  The next one I started about a week ago and ended 
the day after an accident happened there, the other day.  Hope you print 
the next poem in your paper too.  Thanks ahead of time.

                                          

              CENTURY-FARVIEW

C ars to the left of you, car to the right,
arly last evening, it was an awful fright.
obody around till after the crash,
hen all the good people came to help in a flash!
p on the sidewalk, the car came with a bound,
ight out of his car, and down to the ground.
ou see the other car, you see the lady cry.

uture accidents will happen there, ask yourself, why?
nswer to that question is clear as can be,
ide there yourself and you will surely see!
ery dangerous intersection,
I'  d like a light for protection.
ven when some lives are taken,
W ill that help make them awaken?
 

                            By
                                  Sandra Cianci

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NJ is the Titanic

New Jersey is the Titanic. State government is sinking in debt and deficit and Governor Christie has quite rightly sounded the alarm. It isn’t his fault that we’ve hit the recession iceberg, but unfortunately the lifeboat situation is perilous with few spots for all the passengers. As Captain of the ship, his responsibility is to ensure fairness. Some will be hurt more than others. Unfortunately, some cuts hurt our most vulnerable populations—low-income seniors and disabled.

Low-income seniors and disabled are getting hit hard by the cuts to the pharmaceutical assistance programs, restrictions put on the Senior Property Tax Freeze and the elimination of the homestead rebates. These financial hits will be exacerbated by the expected property tax increases resulting from drastic cuts in state aid to municipalities and school districts.

What are people living on Social Security or Social Security disability supposed to do? Stop taking medications? Not eat as much? Stop paying rent? “Shared sacrifice” must be fairly shared. If the State insists on squeezing low-income seniors and disabled for millions of dollars in “savings”, they may very well stop taking their medications, get sicker and end up in already-overcrowded hospital emergency rooms. How does that help anyone?

Marilyn Askin
AARP New Jersey Chief Legislative Advocate
Plainsboro
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