Transportation meeting in Montgomery

Published 4:15 pm Tuesday, October 18, 2005

By By Jo Bonner
Congress has been in recess this week in honor of Columbus Day, and this provided an opportunity to work on several local projects.
One of these projects was to bring local county leaders to meet with Governor Bob Riley and sit at the same table with Alabama Transportation Director Joe McInnes, and other officials from the Alabama Department of Transportation to stress the transportation priorities for southwest Alabama.
In July, Congress passed the highway reauthorization bill. The Transportation Equity Act – A Legacy for Users (known as TEA-LU) returns $286.4 billion to taxpayers in funding for highway, bridge, and surface transportation projects across the United States.
Under this bill, it was determined that the state of Alabama will receive in excess of $700 million each year through 2009 from the federal government for the construction and repair of roads and bridges.
I was joined by the county chairman from each county in the district: Rhondel Rhone from Clarke County, Larry White from Escambia County, Judge Otha Lee Biggs from Monroe County, David Ed Bishop from Baldwin County, Judge John Henry Armstrong from Washington County and Mike Dean from Mobile County.
This was a great opportunity for each county to share their priorities with the governor and his senior staff to ensure that those priorities are considered when the state Department of Transportation determines which transportation projects to fund over the next five years.
New Medicare Drug Program for Alabama Senior Citizens
While in Montgomery last week, I was also able to participate in the launch of the Medicare Prescription Access Network of Alabama. This network brings together over 30 organizations across Alabama in order to help senior citizens choose which Medicare prescription drug plan is best for them.
Starting January 1, 2006, Medicare will help all Medicare beneficiaries pay for prescription drugs.
The new prescription drug program is complicated, which is why this network is so important. It will enable senior citizens to make informed decisions when choosing which prescription drug plan is right for them. The plans vary depending on the amount and types of prescriptions a person takes, so it is important that seniors pick the plan that is right for their needs.
All senior citizens on Medicare, regardless of income or drug spending, are eligible to participate in the program. Additionally, everyone on Medicare will be able to choose brand name or generic drugs.
This drug program will work like insurance. Each month recipients will be required to pay a monthly premium. Medicare will even provide extra help to those seniors with high prescription drug costs.
Enrollment for the program begins November 15. For more information on Medicare prescription drug coverage, visit the website
I am excited that senior citizens will finally have access to the medicines they need.
The Weeks Ahead
There is still a busy schedule awaiting Congress next week and over the coming months. Clearly, we still have work to do with response to Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita.
We will also be working to complete the appropriations process.
My staff and I work for you. Please call if we can be of service.
Jo Bonner is a U.S. congressman. His column appears weekly.

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