Keep tuned Manzo takes to the airwaves

Seeking to reach more people in the 31st Assembly District with informational programming, Assemblyman Louis Manzo has taken to cable television.

A program called Issues and Answers premiered on Monday, Dec. 26 at 5 p.m. and runs through January in that timeslot in Jersey City on channel 51, and in Bayonne on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2006 at 7:30 p.m. on public access.

The first episode features special guests Catherine Macchi of the Hudson County Office on Aging and Rebecca Perkins of Medicare Today, to discuss senior health coverage, benefits, and related procedures for acquiring these amenities.

The main objective of the program is to make available information to seniors about the health benefits and coverage to which they are entitled. Specifically, much reference is made to Medicare Part D, which has generated confusion. A step-by-step process is detailed, along with pertinent phone numbers and contact information.

Part D has the greatest changes under the new Medicare package and is an extremely complicated issue, Manzo said.

These changes are among the most significant done to the program in more than 40 years, and though many local legislators disagree with how the program has been implemented by the federal government and some of the provisions, Manzo said seniors have to be prepared to make choices, and that takes information.

“We did the first show on this because enrollment in New Jersey is down, and if people don’t sign up, there will be a penalty later.”

Who should sign up and how to make choices are some of the questions the show will answer.

Manzo said the experts he is bringing on the program will help walk people through the process.

“It is probably one of the most complicated issues,” he said.

In New Jersey, people have a choice of 17 different programs ranging from $5 a month to $70.

Layman’s terms

“I believe this is a public service, and that seniors can’t get enough information,” Manzo said. “The program tells seniors how to navigate through the system in layman’s language so that it is easier to understand.”

Manzo, along with other organizations such as the Hudson County Office on Aging and the Bayonne Office on Aging have been seeking to reach out to people.

“Seniors are calling us to speak before various groups,” he said. “We will be going around right after the holidays explaining it.”

The TV show will be repeated for several weeks so that seniors can also get all of the information there, Manzo said, noting that the program in the future will cover a variety of topics such as how state government and the legislature work.

“We’ll be doing a program on property taxes next, and later one on health care issues,” he said. “But this will be a loose format. We want people to enjoy watching this and get informed, too.”

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