Rx Bill imperfect, but it’s a start

AARP believes the prescription drug legislation recently passed by Congress is a good start and provides a foundation, which we can build upon. And while the bill is not perfect, it will enhance the retirement security for millions, especially those of low income and those with high drug costs.

It will also provide much needed relief for hospitals and medical providers in rural areas.

AARP believes that if it had not supported it, the likelihood of another prescription drug bill coming before Congress in the near future was dim at best.

We know there has been criticism that AARP was out of touch with its members when it decided to endorse the bill. Yet it has always been AARP’s policy to reflect the input we seek and receive from our members. Efforts to gather that input are both ongoing and proactive.

Now, we have prescription drug legislation in Medicare that will take effect in 2006, beginning with a discount drug card that will become available early next year. Low-income beneficiaries will immediately receive a $600 subsidy on their discount card. As a result, millions of seniors will be helped by this new coverage.

While this bill does not help everyone, it does establish a prescription drug benefit in Medicare for the first time, something AARP members and millions of older and disabled Americans have been demanding for years.

As we look to the future, AARP pledges to continue to fight for more comprehensive coverage in Medicare and will strive to find ways to keep the costs of prescription drugs affordable for our members.

David Mitchell

AARP Arizona State Director

Phoenix, Ariz.

Military sacrifices then and now

Three weeks ago, my wife and I visited Pearl Harbor. After a documentary video about the events of that Sunday morning, Dec. 7, 1941, we sailed out to the memorial of the USS Arizona. There we stood and read many of the names of the 1,177 individuals who died that day while serving our nation on the USS Arizona.

Many of them were preparing for church services that morning. None of them expected it to be his last day alive. Most of the bodies of these 1,177 still lie in their sunken grave in Pearl Harbor. That day 2,390 military and civilians died during that surprise attack. Half of them died on the Arizona.

That day a “sleeping giant awoke,” and the enemy was soon to be faced with something they had not counted on—the power of American patriotism.

While on the Arizona memorial, I thought also of the more than 3,000 civilians that lost their lives in another surprise attack on Sept. 11, 2001. On that day, terrorists foolishly thought that they could cause our nation to crumble by destroying the Financial Towers and the innocent people within them.

What our new enemy did not understand was that it was not these symbols of our economy that made the U. S. great. Contrary to the political idiom, “It’s the economy, stupid,” the fact is it isn’t the economy that makes America great. The goodness and strength of America is the power of faith, freedom and patriotism.

Today, I like most of you, am saddened any time I hear about any of our valiant military personnel falling to terrorist attacks. But, I realize that if our military were not fighting the terrorist around Baghdad, we would be fighting them here in our homeland and hundreds or thousands of unsuspecting civilians would be dying as the result of these cowardly acts at the hands of terrorism’s demons of evil.

Saddam Insane [Hussein] claimed to have no connection with the Al Qaida. Yet, shortly before Baghdad, Saddam, or one of his look-a-likes, went on Baghdad television calling for all the world’s terrorists to come to Iraq and fight the “evil” Americans. I couldn’t help but think, what better place for the terrorists to be than head-on with the strongest military power in the world. It is much better for all of us to have the terrorist in Iraq fighting trained military than on the streets of Europe and America attacking common everyday working people.

We all hate to lose any of our military personnel. But, each life sacrificed by one of our military probably saves dozens of lives here at home and gives the people of Iraq the opportunity to believe in a future of freedom rather than tyranny.

Along with remembering Pearl Harbor, I plan to spend some time thanking God for our military and praying for their protection.

Steve Casey

Stonewall, La.

Supports Healthy Forest Initiative

On Dec. 3, President Bush signed into law the Healthy Forests Restoration Act of 2003 to help to prevent catastrophic wildfires and strengthen America’s long-term forest health. The legislation, based on the President’s Healthy Forest Initiative, will reduce the risk of catastrophic fire to communities, help save the lives of firefighters and citizens, and protect threatened and endangered species.

I commend him for initiating this law and support his efforts to improve our forests and save lives and property. I hope you’ll join me in this support.

Arne Abrahamsen Jr.

Mesa, Ariz.

Applauds Sen. Clinton’s visit

Congratulations to Senator Hillary Clinton. Without any fanfare, she spent a whole day in Afghanistan, ate Thanksgiving Dinner with the troops, and then traveled to Islamabad, Pakistan to meet with Musharraf. Then she flew to Baghdad and spent the day touring the city, meeting with civilian leaders, military chiefs and U.S. troops. She has already visited injured troops (the ones that are ignored by Bush) at Walter Reed Army Hospital.

What a contrast to the hoopla and publicity than accompanied Bush’s latest photo-op—2.5 hours at the base at Baghdad Airport accompanied by White House spokespeople, photographers and journalists!

Angela Bradshaw

Los Angeles, Calif.

Questions status of American freedom

With bio-scientists like Dr. Thomas Butler convicted in a bookkeeping dispute and programmers like Dmitry Sklyarov put in jail for decoding e-Books, it is becoming very apparent that scientists are no longer free to research in the United States.

Even if they are developing vaccines to protect Americans against plagues, they face centuries of imprisonment for the smallest deviation from new and draconian rules.

It’s now time for US scientists who value freedom to look to other lands like Canada, Europe, India, and Japan to do and publish their research, and to hold conferences. The land of the free has moved.

Tom Trottier

Ottawa, Ontario

Canada

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