Legislative session addressed needs of Missouri's seniors

Thursday, June 1, 2006

By Peter Kinder

May is Older Americans Month. In recognition of Missouri seniors, I honored our best older workers and senior service award winners at the Capitol in early May. These individuals are actively working and volunteering in their communities long past retirement age, some 100 years and older. They are an inspiration to us all because they do whatever they can to make Missouri better. I salute these men and women who define good citizenship.

As Missouri's official senior advocate, let me update you on some key senior issues we worked on this year with Gov. Matt Blunt and the General Assembly.

My office assisted senior advocacy groups and organizations to pass new legislation regarding assisted-living facilities. Senate Bill 616 establishes and improves guidelines for assisted-living facilities, bridging the gap between nursing homes and independent living. This new legislation offers seniors longer independence and individual choices for long-term care services. It received overwhelming bipartisan support and awaits Governor Blunt's signature.

The retooled Missouri Rx Plan will provide additional prescription drug coverage to low-income seniors enrolled in Medicare Part D. Missouri Rx started Jan. 1 and supplements all Medicare prescription drug plans by paying for half of the out-of-pocket costs left by Medicare. If you have questions about how the Missouri Rx Plan works with Medicare Part D, please call (800) 375-1406.

An improving state economy is good news for all Missourians. The latest state budget also holds much good news for our seniors. With backing from the governor and key lawmakers, we were able to secure an additional $1 million dollars for home-delivered meals. This will allow low-income seniors to stay in their homes longer and have independent lives. I was also pleased that the legislature included $265,670 for Alzheimer's research. This will provide invaluable seed money for renowned scientists at our finest universities in Missouri to attract additional federal dollars to help find the cure for Alzheimer's.

The issues and concerns that I have shared with you represent months, and often years, of hard work. The laws we all live under should be judged by quality, not by the number of bills passed.

A small number of editorial writers and political observers have tried to paint this past session of the Missouri General Assembly as unproductive. President Harry Truman once warned, "You can never get all the facts from just one newspaper." I urge you to ignore political rhetoric and judge for yourself.

Peter Kinder of Cape Girardeau is the lieutenant governor of Missouri.

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