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“We must do everything we can in the Senate to create solutions to help, not harm, America’s seniors.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) today joined a bipartisan group of Senate colleagues to support a proposal that would provide much needed assistance to seniors who were unable to meet the new Medicare prescription drug program (Part D) May 15th enrollment deadline. The legislation is expected to come up for a vote today.

“I believe ‘honor thy mother and father’ is not just a good commandment to live by, it is good public policy to govern by. That’s why I feel so strongly about Medicare,” said Senator Mikulski. “We must do everything we can in the Senate to create solutions to help, not harm, America’s seniors.”

The Medicare Late Enrollment Assistance Act (S. 2810) eliminates the enrollment penalty for seniors who did not meet the May 15th deadline. It also provides an additional $13 million for State Health Insurance Information Programs and an additional $5 million for Area Agencies on Aging to provide beneficiaries assistance in enrolling in Part D.

“This bill will improve the Medicare drug program by not punishing seniors who could not make this confusing decision by the deadline,” said Senator Mikulski. “It also works to strengthen the groups who have been signing seniors up for this program. They are doing a great job, but they cannot do it alone.”

This proposal, however, does not extend the May 15th deadline, a continued priority for Senator Mikulski.

“I will continue to work with my Senate colleagues to extend the Medicare deadline. Medicare Part D is a mess and America’s seniors need more time to understand it,” said Senator Mikulski.

Bill cosponsors include: Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Mike DeWine (R-Ohio), Ben Nelson (D-Fla.), John Kyl (R-Ariz.), Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.), James M. Talent (R-Mo.), Blanche L. Lincoln (D-Ark.), Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), Conrad Burns (R-Mont.), Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Gordon H. Smith (R-Ore.), Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) and Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.).

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