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Wednesday, August 03, 2011
Amsterdam, NY ,
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Jarrett Carroll/Recorder staff Annette Diamond, left, tells the Amsterdam Common Council Tuesday that 11 widows "have fallen through the cracks" and were never notified they now have to pay $450 a month for continued prescription drug coverage from the city. The woman at right is unidentified.

Jarrett Carroll/Recorder staff Amsterdam 2nd Ward Alderwoman Julie Pierce makes a point during Tuesday's Common Council meeting.

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Health cost spike upsets city widows

By JARRETT CARROLL

Recorder News Staff

Saying they have "fallen through the cracks," 11 widows of former Amsterdam city employees were apparently never notified their prescription drug plans were recently altered.

Annette Diamond spoke during the public comment period of Tuesday night's Common Council meeting and told them she was appalled by the lack of communication.

She said 4th Ward Alderman William Wills was the only city official to acknowledge her inquires.

"The only one who has given me satisfaction is Mr. Wills," said Diamond. "Boy, it just isn't fair."

She scolded the city council for the move.

"It's like these stupid senior citizens have fallen through the cracks and never knew," Diamond said. "You folks have pushed us down, but we're standing up again and we'd like your help."

A change in the city's health care coverage has left the elderly women in the lurch, she said, leaving them with a responsibility to pay nearly $450 a month for prescription drug coverage.

"What senior can afford that unless we were born rich or married a rich husband?" Diamond asked the board. "I wasn't either of those things."

She and another woman attending the meeting said they paid $2,000 to Blue Cross in 1999 for lifetime coverage and that they were shocked to hear they would have to pay more money.

"We were told we wouldn't have to worry because we were set for life," Diamond said. "The widows were the only ones asked to pay and we don't know why."

There were originally 43 widows in total, but according to Diamond, "Now there's only 11 of us left."

After a lengthy discussion between Wills and 2nd Ward Alderwoman Julie Pierce, a motion was made to temporarily extend the woman's drug coverage through the city.

"They were never informed," Wills said. "We're all at fault, even Bill Wills ... When you implement a plan you can't just leave people in the dark."

He asked for a motion to help the widows.

"Can we have a verbal commitment to allow them to go for at least a few months on the old plan?" Wills asked.

Pierce said she agreed.

"I would support Alderman WIlls' suggestion," she said. "We'll continue to cover prescription costs until you're squared away."

Mayor Ann Thane was in full agreement, too.

"I think that's fair," she said and told the women, "you've gotten the attention of the council, which is a good thing."

Contact JARRETT CARROLL at

jarrett.carroll@recordernews.com

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