December 4, 2021 by Linda Wilkinson

This year, as the holiday approaches, something our whole community should be grateful for is President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better agenda. What we shouldn’t be grateful for is U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik who voted against both parts of the agenda.

Why did she vote against bringing New York state at least $13.5 billion for roads and bridges, $9.8 billion for public transportation, $685 million for airports, $2.6 billion for clean drinking water and $100 million for broadband internet access? Why did she vote against the social infrastructure bill, one that is fully funded and reduces the deficit? It will bring significant benefits to New Yorkers including pre-K to almost 300,000 more kids, get affordable child care to families of 1 million children; make health care more affordable for hundreds of thousands including 163,000 uninsured; and expand rental assistance for the nearly 2 million people who spend more than 30% of their income on rent.

The package includes important benefits for older residents like me. The final version is expected to include three important gains:

■ It invests $89 billion in a new Medicare benefit for hearing care to begin in 2023, including coverage of prescribed hearing aids under Medicare Part B.

■ It will lower the cost of prescription drugs, capping total Medicare drug coverage out of pocket costs to $2,000 and ensuring that insulin costs no more than $35 per month. It will lower Medicare prices on a small number of high cost prescription medicines by 2025 by negotiating rather than unilaterally decisions by the drug corporations. It will penalize drug manufacturers that price gouge.

■ It will address the existing backlog of people on waiting lists for home care services.

These investments are lifesaving and will allow older residents to age with the dignity they so deserve. But Rep. Stefanik would deny us these measures.

I really wish she would put the good of our community first by supporting these historic investments which will help make the north country a place where we can all thrive. Instead, she has put partisanship first — not much to be thankful for.

Linda Wilkinson


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