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Rockland Seniors Concerned About Taxes, Healthcare

Carlucci: 'We want to live here, but if we can’t afford to live here, what’s the point?'

Red lines were drawn across school taxes at a

Some elderly citizens are asking their fellow seniors to lobby for less or no school taxes for seniors in Rockland, since they are an age group without children in the school districts.

However, others said school taxes needed to be paid by all since kids are the future of the country—and because residents can’t simply pick and choose which taxes they want to pay.

Some senior citizens added they went through a public school system paid for by taxpayers when they were kids, it’s only fair and expected that they now pay for this generation of school children.

“We need a stronger commitment from state aid to our public schools,” said Senator David Carlucci (D-Rockland/Orange).

Carlucci’s Senior Advisory Committee met recently at the Nanuet Library. More than 50 seniors attended.

Carlucci started hosting these meetings in to address a range of issues and concerns affecting senior citizens throughout Rockland County.   

“The No. 1 growing demographic is seniors," he said. "Rockland County faces new challenges among an increasingly aging demographic and it is important to meet these challenges by having an active level of participation among those who are affected. At the same time, we have an opportunity to make sure that seniors are provided a more efficient delivery of healthcare services, utilize new technologies, and understand how legislation can impact their lives.”

In an , Patch looked at technology concerns of these Rockland seniors.

Although technology was a hot topic, things got heated when the seniors started talking about the healthcare and taxes.

“We want to live here, but if we can’t afford to live here, what’s the point?” said Carlucci. “We have to pay our fair share of taxes, but they have to be fair and equitable. We have to make it sustainable. If we bankrupt the system, we all lose.”

Healthcare

One notable item of discussion included the topic of healthcare, including the newly crafted Affordable Care Act, which dominated much of the discussion.  Many argued that seniors did not fully grasp the specifics of the new federal legislation and how New York State would handle implementing the required elements of the plan. Carlucci pointed out that New York State has already began the process of implementing the program as a way to secure federal dollars.

“The goal here is to talk about issues in an open forum,” said Carlucci, who is advocating for a state-run Medicaid system in New York. “If Medicaid is state-run, we’ll be able to administer Medicaid more effectively and cut down on fraud. Last year we spent billions on Medicaid and we’re not the largest state. However, we implement it differently than any other state.”

Carlucci is pushing for a healthcare exchange program which is a device for an individual to choose what healthcare fits best for him/her. Through this program, individuals will be able to be matched with lower premium options.

“It’s a work in progress,” he added. “Medicare can be so confusing. I want to set up a seminar through the Department of Health that will list the ABCs of Medicare and make sure you get the right program and that no one is overpaying.”

Seniors also brought up their disappointment that veterans should get a co-pay discount on healthcare.

“My concern today is caregivers. There’s no help for a family member who is a caregiver. We had to shell out of our own pocket to find someone to give (our family member) relief,” said Donna Yannazzone, a personal organizer who offers free seminars on support before a loved one dies, such as getting all necessary papers in order.

Carlucci also discussed EPIC, the newly restored prescription drug benefit program that brings back affordable $20 prescription co-pays to seniors, which will bring down costs and make it more affordable to live in Rockland.  The program, which takes effect beginning January 1, 2013, restores over $30 million dollars in funding that helps more than 280,000 income-eligible seniors, age 65 and over, afford their out-of-pocket Medicare Part D drug plan. 

“Seniors should never have to choose between buying their groceries and affording their medications,” Carlucci added.  “I was pleased to have voted for this measure so that Rockland seniors can breathe a sigh of relief.”

Additional topics included ways in which seniors are affected financially, including how to grasp with Rockland County’s finances, restoring the STAR Rebate Program—which can be applied to property taxes of seniors, Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements from the State and preventing identity theft targeting older populations.

The seniors also brought up to the topic of the and its possible. 

“The Tappan Zee Bridge is our liveline for commerce and labor trade,” said Carlucci, adding that there needs to be a discount for local bridge crossers.

, on behalf of the 170 residents at the , told Carlucci that there needs to be compensation to seniors for lower quality of life, construction, air quality and noise as a result of the bridge construction.

For more information about the next Seniors Advisory Committee or to sign up and become a member, please call Senator Carlucci’s office at (845) 623-3627 or email carlucci@nysenate.gov.

Tony T August 28, 2012 at 02:05 PM
Not only do they not want to pay the taxes they are only required to claim icome not assets cars, bank accounts, annuties, trusts which they are shielding (legally, because it is not required) so they can pass them on to their childern and they want us to pay more....? Yes, some are truly in need and must be assisted but the fraud and scamming and misappropiation is a disgrace.
Watchdog August 28, 2012 at 02:07 PM
You mean you are not satisfied with the work done by our $170000 a year Clerk of the Works and head if the Conservative Party? Tell Gromack and maybe he will put it in his Annual Review? OOPS....forget it...Lettre controls Gromack...not the other way around.
MitchP August 28, 2012 at 03:20 PM
The presumption is seniors voted for the people who put these pension costs in place. Now they want to vote their way out of being responsbile for them and stick the younger taxpayers with the bill? And to your 10-kids scenario....it's doubtful that family is laughing their way to the bank while they get away with having to pay a proportionally smaller slice of the tax pie.
Michael N. Hull August 28, 2012 at 04:00 PM
Tony I: I agree with your observation that seniors should rent but I would take it a step further. Because of the demographics of Rockland County as the Ramapo problem expands house prices will be going down. The next couple of years will be the last opportunity for any Rocklander to sell and make a good profit if they have lived here for a substantial period of time as I have. I'm not going to do the calculations on the demographics for you but if you look at the rate of expansion of one particular community you can see where the mathematics will take you in 10 - 20 years. Further, if you look at the financial statements of both the Town and County you will realize that there is a huge increase in taxes coming which is inevitable. Higher property taxes also mean lower home prices. (I will be doing an article on this in Patch shortly entitled "Doing My Bills" - look out for it.)
jrod August 29, 2012 at 03:06 AM
I didn't know food stamps were an asset Tony T. And the community Michael refers to is usually exempt from personal property tax, despite the 10 children, and Carlucci should do his homework regarding why our state (this county in particular) has such high medicaid costs. Regardless...New York state is broke and in denial. Anybody who invests in property here is crazy. Pension funds have already been spent by the gov. The smoke and mirrors show that appears as daily life here will fade - and reality will show itself eventually. This county was / is beautiful. We ruined it. Our fat cat entitled elected officials ruined it. It's shameful. To the seniors - RUN. Get out of here. Why would you want to spend your golden years arguing in some stale room about taxes and the struggle to stay here. There are better places to live. Carlucci picked a nice focus group to fly a flag for. Seniors are most likely to vote. Go sit by a beach seniors...is the fight to keep your devalued home and chaotic way of life that is now Rockland really worth it? At least if you have to pay high school taxes elsewhere - you will be looking at something better than Main St. in New City.

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