TIRED OF TELEMARKETERS?
The "Do Not Call" registry is now operational and over a million individuals have already registered. Run by the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation, the legislature unanimously passed An Act Regulating Telemarketing Solicitation to protect you from the torment of telemarketers. You can sign up to add your name to the "Do Not Call" list in order to control the number of telemarketers who call you at home. The list is free to join. To sign up, log on to http://www.Mass.gov/DoNotCall or call the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulations toll-free at (888) 283-3757.

SENIOR TAX REBATE

On November 18, 2002, I filed An Act Relative to Property Tax Rebates for Senior Citizens, to ease the living expenses for seniors on fixed incomes and mounting local property tax payments. Under the legislation, cities and towns will have the option to rebate up to $750 in property tax payments to
all eligible seniors. You would be eligible for the tax rebate if you have an income below the level that is required for filing Massachusetts income taxes or if you qualify for the state's circuit breaker tax credit. The bill was heard by the Taxation Committee in early April.

PRESCRIPTION ADVANTAGE

As prescription drug costs continue to skyrocket, you may find yourself depending on the Prescription Advantage program to help you obtain the crucial medication you need. While Governor Romney's budget plan eliminated funding for this program. The legislature restored funding in full in its
state budget, re-opening enrollment and preserving the integrity of the program-a lifeline for over 80,000 older and disabled residents. If you need more information on the Prescription Advantage program, please do not hesitate to call my office at (617) 722-1643.

NURSING HOMES
Providing quality care for society's most vulnerable is one of my priorities. The Senate budget takes steps to maintain fair admissions criteria to nursing homes, keep the current bed-hold policy of 20 days, and
protect the "resource first" allowance for spouses of nursing home residents. I also filed an amendment to study the need to provide kosher food services in nursing homes, ensuring that the religious traditions of
seniors are honored. In addition, I have also sponsored an amendment providing funding for adult day care programs to protect seniors with Alzheimer's disease.

HOME CARE PROGRAMS
I have always been an advocate for home care programs. Home care is a cost-efficient option that allows seniors to remain connected to their communities. I was proud to be a leading sponsor of the bill establishing the Community Choices program, which provides services to seniors enabling
them to receive care at home. The Community Choices program is not only fiscally responsible, it allows seniors to stay in the comfort and dignity of their own homes. I am pleased that the legislature provided $9.2 million to fund this important program. If you believe you are eligible and are
interested in enrolling, contact your Aging Service Access Point. In Braintree, Milton, and Randolph, call South Shore Elder Services, Inc. at (781) 848-3910; in Canton and Sharon, please call Health and Social Services Consortium (HESSCO) at (781) 784-4944; and in Avon, E. Bridgewater, Easton,
Stoughton, and W. Bridgewater, please call Old Colony Elderly Services, Inc. at (508) 584-1561 or Old Colony Planning Council at (508) 583-1833.

NEW LAWS REGARDING GIFT CARDS
During this time of graduations and present giving, it is nice to know that you, the consumer, are now protected more than ever when it comes to purchasing gift certificates and gift cards. As of June 1, 2003 several new and improved laws are in effect in regards to these prepaid gifts. Rather than an expiration life of two years, all gift certificates in Massachusetts are now valid for seven years. Also, gift certificates not clearly marked with both a date of issuance and a date of expiration are good forever.
Finally, once 90% of the total amount has been redeemed, the merchant must give you the option of receiving the rest in cash or maintaining the remaining balance on the gift certificate. If you are denied any of the above changes, please contact my office at (617) 722-1643 and I will make sure it is corrected.

SENIOR TRANSPORTATION
Having trouble getting around? There are many options available to you right in your own community. A good place to start is your own town's Council on Aging. Many have vans available free of charge or for a small suggested donation to all elders traveling locally. For medical transportation into Boston, Basic Transportation will pick you up at your home and wait in Boston until you are ready to be brought home again. For around $50, Basic Transportation will you privately transport you to and from your appointments. For more information or to make a reservation, call (508) 238-8100. If you prefer public transportation the MBTA offers great senior discounts and THE RIDE is available to all seniors who are unable to use the MBTA busses and trains because of physical or mental disabilities. THE RIDE is available in 62 cities and towns including Braintree, Canton, Milton, Randolph, and Sharon. For more information or to make a reservation for THE RIDE, call (888) 319-7433. To get more information on all MBTA senior reduced fares, call (617) 222-5438 or visit their website at http://www.MBTA.com.

KEYNOTE SPEAKER AT UMASS
Finally, I was honored to have be asked to be a keynote speaker at the June 4, 2003 gathering of the Gerontology Alumni Association at UMASS Boston. I gave an update to the group on fiscal affairs of the state and I discussed some of the issues concerning seniors. The Gerontology Institution at UMASS
Boston, established in 1979, focuses on conducting social and economic research in relation to aging and provides public education on issues associated with expanding opportunities for older people to make productive contributions in aging services. If you are interested in obtaining more information about the Gerontology Institution at UMASS Boston, please call (617) 287-7300, or feel free to contact my office at (617) 722-1643. Thank you for allowing me to work for you.

Questions or concerns? Please contact me at my office at (617) 722-1643,
my home at (617) 696-0200, or by email at [email protected]
Thank you for allowing me to work for you.

Newsletter Archive: No. 1 No. 2 No.3

SENATOR BRIAN A. JOYCE
State House, Room 413-A, Boston, Massachusetts 02133
Tel. 617-722-1643 Fax 617-722-1522 E-mail: [email protected]