President Bush talks up Medicare during April 11 visit to Jefferson City
By Allen Palmeri
April 18, 2006
JEFFERSON CITY – Ralph Sawyer, pastor of First Baptist Church in Wentzville, presided over the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) Executive Board April 11 at the same time that George W. Bush, president of the United States of America, was hosting a Medicare prescription drug benefit meeting at the Etta and Joseph Miller Performing Arts Center here.
“Being a president, I know how important it is to have prayer support, so we will really give him some prayer support today even while he’s meeting,” said Sawyer as he reported for duty that morning in the Gold Room of the Baptist Building. “We’re very grateful for what the president has done and is doing for us in the area of life. We know he has many challenges in Iraq, and we’ll continue to pray for him that he’ll get wisdom from God about what to do.”
President Bush said that 29 million Americans have signed up for the new Medicare plan. His goal is to increase that number by 7 million, and he urged people during the “interesting, educational event” to sell the merits of the program to their neighbors. He was on stage for about 40 minutes.
The president was seated with three people on either side of him. Warm and folksy in his delivery, he alternated between kind-hearted banter and casual questioning of his subjects, who all seemed eager to help.
A woman on stage testified that she signed up her mother for the program which has resulted in a savings of $40 per month. Another woman on stage said she has trimmed about two-thirds of her costs. A man on stage who described himself as computer illiterate—“a man of the land,” the president said with a smile—talked about how he called his local Social Security office and cut his bill for prescriptions to only $7 per month.
There are 917,102 seniors and disabled people eligible for the Medicare drug benefit in Missouri, according to an April 11 news release by U.S. Sen. Jim Talent, R-Missouri. As of March 18, 66 percent are enrolled in the new voluntary program, Talent said. For more information, call 1-800-MEDICARE. President Bush, who also visited a Lutheran senior living community in Jefferson City, is urging folks to help facilitate those calls.
“The true strength of this country is not the size of our armies, or the size of our wallets, it’s the size of our hearts,” President Bush said. “For those of you who are helping a neighbor in need, helping a child to learn how to read, providing shelter for the homeless, or food for the hungry or advice to the seniors, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping to make this nation the greatest nation on the face of the earth. Thanks for coming, and God bless you.”
Bush, a Methodist, mentioned how vital “the faith community” is as America pursues solutions to her many problems.