Monday, January 12, marks the beginning of my 12th year here at The Gazette. It’s hard to believe I’ve been here 11 years. I do enjoy my job.
The number one thing I like about my job is meeting people. I’ve met different types of people over the years, and many I call friends today. If I did something else in life, I probably wouldn’t have met some of the nicest people I know in the world.
Another thing I like about my job is assisting someone with a problem through the paper. Many critics of the paper say all we print is bad news, but we have had some great people stories over the years. I especially like to write the stories that help to solve a problem, highlight someone’s accomplishments or just make someone feel good about themselves. I have to thank all the people who have assisted us in our job by sharing their stories with us.
Now, here’s a toast to another 12 years. I hope to continue working hard to serve our reading audience.
On another note, I’d like to share some of our emails with you.
LSU AgCenter News
If you didn’t know, Social Security recipients may be one of the few groups with happy news during the recession, according to a story released by the LSU AgCenter News department. Social Security recipients started their New Year with their largest raise since 1982, a 5.8 percent increase. This cost of living adjustment (COLA) affects some 50 million Americans.
“An added piece of good news is that Medicare has announced that the Part B premium for doctor and outpatient services will not go up in 2009,” said LSU AgCenter family economist Dr. Gloria Nye.
In dollar terms, the raise means the average Social Security check for individuals, which was $1,090 in 2008, has increased about $63 to $1,153 this year. Couples can expect their combined benefits to be $1,876, from an average of $1,773.
The federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) monthly payment for individuals rose from $637 to $674 a month, and payments for couples rose from $956 to $1,011. The disabled worker’s benefit increased from $1,006 to $1,064 per month.
“This is first time since 2000 that the Medicare Part B premium has not increased,” Nye said. It will remain at the 2008 level of $96.40 per month.
For the five percent of seniors on Medicare who have incomes of $85,000 or more, their Medicare premiums will be increased based on their income level. The Part B deductible will remain at $135 in 2009, but the Part A annual deductible goes up $44, to $1,068, for hospital stays of up to 60 days.
For more information on the Social Security COLA increases, go to www.socialsecurity.gov or call 800-772-1213. For more information about Medicare go to www.cms.hhs.gov or call 800-633-4227.
For related family economics and consumer topics, go to the LSU AgCenter home page at www.lsuagcenter.com and click on the Family and Home link. For local information and educational programs, contact an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.
That’s good news for our residents who live on fixed incomes.
LHA releases a statement
The Louisiana Hospital Association (www.lhaonline.org) released a statement this week about proposed budget cuts. “The Louisiana Hospital Association is concerned about the negative impact budget cuts will have on our already stressed healthcare system,” John Matessino, LHA president and CEO, said. “Budget cuts to healthcare are bad for patients, business and our economy. Currently, hospitals are paid below cost by the state for treating Medicaid patients. By cutting an already under-funded program, Louisiana citizens may face longer Emergency Room wait times and can expect possible cuts to local healthcare services and jobs. The results of cutting Medicaid could also mean higher costs for healthcare for individuals and businesses.
“Because cutting Medicaid funding affects the amount of federal match the state receives, for every $1 million cut in state Medicaid funding for hospitals, the projected economic impact would be a $3.3 million revenue loss to hospitals; a reduction of approximately 70 jobs; a reduction of $2.8 million in personal earnings; and a loss of $7.2 million in overall business transactions.”
Matessino continued, “For too long, Louisiana has relied on cutting funding for healthcare and higher education to balance the budget during times of budget shortfalls. Gov. Jindal and the current legislature inherited a budget dilemma that began with the 1973 Constitutional Convention and has grown ever since. Constitutional Amendment No. three of 2002 allowed the governor and the legislature to look at other areas of the budget for reductions, but it does not go far enough to protect vital healthcare services.”
I guess we’ll see what happens when our legislators convene to discuss the state’s budget.
Legislators to meet Monday
Members of the Acadiana Legislative Delegation have scheduled a news conference to reveal a regional effort to re-energize the I-49 South initiative as a direct response to the re-establishment of the I-49 South Task Force by Governor Bobby Jindal through Executive Order No. BJ 2008 - 43. They will meet Monday, January 12, at 10 a.m. at Bayless Conference Center, Rip Van Winkle Gardens, 5505 Rip Van Winkle Road, Jefferson Island (near New Iberia). The purpose is to prioritize the upgrading of U.S. Highway 90 to interstate standards and the construction of the Lafayette I-49 connector.
This project has been in the works for some time. I guess we’ll see what the plans are and how legislators plan to move this project forward.
Hope you enjoyed some of this information. Have a great day.