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A Real Shocker
First, a 13 1/2 % increase in Medicare premiums and now receiving word that our supplemental (medigap) policy will be increased by almost another thousand dollars (for 2) for year 2004; about a 26% increase. We had anticipated perhaps something along the line of 10% since we often hear about "double digit inflation" in this category, but almost a 30% increase? Of course medigap policies only pick up the 20% that Medicare "covered charges" does not cover. Amazing!
It is also interesting to note that the Medigap insurers are mandated to secure the approval of the state Dept. of Health before initiating any premium increases. Sort of boggles the mind that our state authorities would approve increases of this magnitude. I wonder at what point they would resist?
We are told that perhaps 43 million unfortunate Americans are without health insurance. We have to wonder what the number will be if that percentage will rise commensurably with premium increases for 2004. 43 + 26% wow, I sincerely hope not!
It's realized of course this type of information is not necessarily compatible with the mind set of the holiday season, but feel that informative and knowledgeable information is usually a plus, nevertheless...
Abolish The PA Property Tax
We need to have all the property owners take action. Recently the Pennsylvania House Finance Committee held an informal public discussion of property tax reform and totally ignored the S.T.O.P. legislation and their proposal for abolishment of all property taxes on homesteads and farmsteads in Pennsylvania.
This, despite the fact that we have 98,800 signatures of good Pennsylvania citizens who demand the total abolishment of the unjust, burdensome property taxes; despite the fact that we have legislation in both houses with 11 Senators and 36 House members as co-sponsors and despite the fact that our legislation Senate Bills 717-718 and House bills 1572-1573 have bipartisan support with both Republicans and Democrats as co-sponsors.
We cannot allow this neglect of the S.T.O.P. plan to continue! It is time that we demand our plan be given a full opportunity to be heard by the people when this supposedly bipartisan House Committee holds informal or formal discussion. The S.T.O.P. movement has heard enough of the smoke and mirrors from the legislators and Governor Rendell.
It is time to stop the partisanship being demonstrated by Rep. Robert Flick, Chairman of the House Finance Committee. Is he afraid that if people learn of the S.T.O.P. plan they may find it more favorable? We urge everyone interested in the abolishment of taxes on homesteads and farmsteads to write to: Rep. Robert J. Flick, Chairman, House Finance Committee, Room 315, Main Capitol, Harrisburg, PA 17120. Rep. Flick is from Chester County. His phone number is: (717) 7878579 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information call the S.T.O.P. hotline at (724) 5454862.
Messages Were Loud And Clear
On November 17, the much publicized milk hearing was held at Keystone College. Dairy farmers came from as far away as Buffalo, New York to make their sincere concerns known.
In addition to aides from Congressmen Sherwood and Kanjorskis offices, Senator Specters office was duly represented. State Senator and PA Senate Minority Leader Bob Mellow thought the hearing was important enough to send his administrative assistant to the event.
Others attending the hearing included Larry Breach, President of the PA Farmers Union; Ron Williams, former Wyoming County Commissioner who now serves as a Regional Director of the PA Department of Agriculture; Jim Conners, the former mayor of Scranton, represented Governor Ed Rendells office; and Gordon Hiller, a former Regional Director of the PA department of Agriculture and past Master of the PA State Grange. However, the most important people present were the dairy farmers. One by one, the dairy farmers told the same story concerning the economic crunch they were feeling on their farms.
Under questioning from the chair, they all acknowledged they needed between $16.00 and $18.00 per cwt. on an annual basis to maintain their farms. All of them agreed that imports of dairy ingredients and dairy products coming into the United States had to be curbed. All but one of the presenters said they would support milk supply management providing the dairy importers were limited and a right price was paid to the dairy farmers.
The need for a new pricing formula based on the average cost of production rang loud and clear throughout the hall. The need for a new pricing formula came from all the dairy farmers as well as businessmen that testified.
Also, three consumers presented their views to the audience. They exhibited their concern for the injustice that was happening at the farm level. Two Methodist ministers, Rev. Bill Reed from Tunkhannock and Rev. Cheryl Cavalari from Trucksville, were appalled that many dairy farmers were suffering the way they are. Ed Pavilski, a consumer from Scranton, PA, took the stand to talk about the fact that consumers are taking for granted their food supply. Mr. Pavilski urged all consumers to back the efforts of the local dairy farmers as they attempt to insure consumers of a safe food supply. Gil Gilespie, from Corwell University related to the psychological impact local dairy farmers are suffering from low milk prices. Privately, some of the guests present told me they heard things that they were not aware of.
Certainly everyone knows that one milk hearing, as good as it was, will not solve the dairy farmers plight. However, we are confident that other events will be held to keep the ball alive. Already, other hearings are being planned for the Syracuse, NY area as well as Bradford or Tioga County in Pennsylvania.
The average dairy farmer has had it they want changes!
TO THE EDITOR POLICY
Thank you, Susquehanna County Transcript
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