Governor Crist Hosts Tallahassee Tuesday to Hear Senior Citizens' Concerns
Date Published: 05-26-2009
~ Discusses seniors' concerns and interests, highlights assistance for elder Floridians ~
TALLAHASSEE - Governor Charlie Crist hosted a Tallahassee Tuesday discussion on May 26, 2009 with representatives of Florida's senior community to hear about the challenges, concerns, and work of elder Floridians. Tallahassee Tuesdays are informal discussions that Governor Crist hosts on a regular basis with various citizens groups and organizations of business and community leaders and other groups to hear their thoughts and ideas on a variety of issues affecting Florida.
"As we recognized Memorial Day yesterday, we honored the American veterans who made the supreme sacrifice to defend our nation, as well as the many elder Floridians who are part of our nation's 'greatest generation' and have also sacrificed to make our nation and our state strong," Governor Crist said. "In so many ways they have strengthened our families and communities as volunteers, as grandparents, and as advocates. It is our duty to honor them by ensuring they have meaningful opportunities to continue to be engaged and to live with respect and dignity."
During the discussion, Governor Crist highlighted the following elder initiatives developed during his administration:
- Using federal stimulus dollars - Protecting Florida's vulnerable seniors is one of the important goals of Governor Crist's administration. The state budget continues the major programs to assist this population, including $8.3 million to provide meals to seniors age 60 and older and help with the placement and the attainment of jobs for low-income seniors.
- Helping provide access to affordable prescription drugs - To help Florida's seniors afford lifesaving prescription drugs, Governor Crist launched the Florida Discount Drug Card. Individuals qualify for the card if they are age 60 and older and do not have prescription drug coverage or if they are in the Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage gap. Qualifying annual incomes for individuals under 60 are up to $31,200 for an individual, $42,000 for a family of two and $63,600 for a family of four. As of May 9, 2009, 88,000 Florida Discount Drug Card holders are saving more than $2.9 million on their prescriptions. For more information, visit www.FloridaDiscountDrugCard.com.
- Meeting the need for affordable health insurance - Cover Florida Health Care provides affordable health insurance option for individuals age 19 to 64. As of April 15, 2009, 53 percent of policyholders are over age 50, including 31 percent who are age 51 to 59 and 22 percent who are age 60 to 64. Additionally, 86 percent of individuals over age 50 purchased catastrophic plans. While developing the Cover Florida Health Care plans, the Governor and his team worked to ensure the availability of hospital-based and catastrophic coverage.
Insurers offer at least two benefit options - one with catastrophic and hospital coverage, and one focusing on preventive care. Each plan has a wide-ranging set of benefit options that include coverage for preventive services, screenings, office visits, as well as office surgery, urgent care, hospital coverage, emergency care, prescription drugs, durable medical equipment, and diabetic supplies. Two companies are available statewide, with additional insurers available in Broward, Flagler, Miami-Dade and Volusia counties. For more information, visit www.CoverFloridaHealthCare.com.
- Providing opportunities for meaningful engagement - In both 2007 and 2008, Governor Crist proposed and supported $10 million for Florida's senior centers to give them the opportunity to apply for Fixed Capital Outlay Grants. These funds are helping construct, repair and maintain senior centers, where approximately 380,000 older Floridians gather to socialize and maintain involvement in their communities.
- Keeping seniors safe - In October 2008, Governor Crist signed Executive Order 08-211 creating the Silver Alert, an immediate statewide broadcast of information to the public regarding missing elders with dementia or other cognitive impairment. Silver Alerts helps local law enforcement more quickly find missing seniors and return them to safety. As of May 22, 2009, Silver Alert has recovered 73 individuals and returned them to safety.
Attending Tuesday's discussion were Barbara Day of Lynn Haven, Doris Graham of Orlando, Doug Heinlen of Sarasota, Bill Ternent of Port Orange, and Tallahassee residents Lillian "Zilpah" Boyd, Larry Carmichael, Moira Desloge, Joan Kinch, Larry Scoma and Peggy Tosh.
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