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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
May 2, 2006

Mrs. Bush's Remarks to the Press Pool
St. Boniface Elementary School
Ft. Smith, Arkansas

photos  Photos

3:02 P.M. CDT

MRS. BUSH: I'm here today in Ft. Smith really to talk about the Medicare drug coverage plan, prescription drug coverage plan. The enrollment date - the deadline for enrollment is coming up, May 15th, so we want to encourage seniors around the country to get enrolled. And I think it's so terrific that these 6th graders have figured out how to help people - they've enrolled more than 200 people in this community for their prescription drug coverage.

Mrs. Laura Bush meets with St. Boniface sixth-graders and senior citizens Tuesday, May 2, 2006 in Ft. Smith, Ark., to remind seniors of the May 15th enrollment deadline to sign-up for the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit. White House photo by Kimberlee Hewitt And they can tell you that there are three simple things that seniors need to do: you need to make sure you have your Medicare card, your red, white and blue Medicare card in hand; that you've gathered up all your current prescriptions, all the drugs that you're currently taking so you can have a list of those; and then you can either call 1-800 MEDICARE, and a counselor there can answer your questions over the phone, or you can go online - which is what all these 6th graders are doing with the people they're helping enroll, at - g-o-v, gov.

And you can do that.

If you can't use the Internet, if you aren't computer savvy like these 6th graders, you can get help by going to your area Agency on Aging; you can go to your grandchildren, to your own children and see if they'll help you, or just make the phone call, where you'll have counselors helping you.

It's really important if possible to have the peace of mind that comes with prescription drug coverage with Medicare, so I encourage seniors to try to enroll in the next two weeks, before the deadline. You may not be taking very many medications right now, but the chances are as you age you might have more and more medications and you don't want to take the chance of having to spend a whole lot of money on your medications because you have not enrolled in the Medicare prescription drug coverage.

So I want to encourage people to get enrolled in Medicare for your prescription drug coverage. And I want to thank all these 6th graders here that are helping people in Ft. Smith, Arkansas get enrolled, here at St.

Boniface School, where they're helping their parish members - but anybody else that wants to come in on the Monday mornings when they help community members get enrolled. So thanks a lot.

This is a great way also for children to help their parents, children my age can help their parents get enrolled; grandparents can ask their grandchildren to help them. And these 6th graders will tell you that it's not as difficult and as confusing as you think it might be.

Q You receive lots of letters from kids all the time. What stood out about this particular -

MRS. BUSH: Well, these letters actually went to the President, so I didn't receive them - my letters come another route.

We actually heard about how terrific this was before the letters even got to him. So we wanted to come here to let people know that it's not that difficult and to really encourage young people to help their parents or their grandparents, encourage friends to help each other.

Mrs. Laura Bush and U.S. Department of Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, center, look at computer information with St. Boniface sixth-graders and senior citizens Tuesday, May 2, 2006 in Ft. Smith, Ark., to remind seniors of the May 15th enrollment deadline to sign-up for the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit. White House photo by Shealah Craighead This is a great program where a Catholic school is helping. I'm sure there are a lot of churches around the country that can arrange to help their members as they try to get enrolled in prescription drug coverage.

Q Mrs. Bush, I know that - Ethan said it, you know, it's people making a mountain out of a mole hill, but we do, we encounter people every day who are having such trouble. We encounter pharmacies that are not prepared. Do you expect that to change, to smooth out within time?

MRS. BUSH: I do, absolutely, I think it will smooth out. This is new, as you know. It's a new program, new part of the government Medicare program so, of course, there are a lot of people who don't know, who are confused about it, a lot of pharmacies. If I understand it - and we need to ask somebody else who's here with us - but the pharmacists have been doing courses for their - the Pharmacy Association has been doing courses for their pharmacists to get caught up on how to do it and how to enroll people.

And, of course, people want to go to their local pharmacy, they want to be able to use the pharmacy and the pharmacist they've always used before; they want to use what's familiar with them.

And the other great thing about this drug coverage is that there are a lot of options. If you're already taking a lot of prescription drugs, you would choose another one option. If you're not taking any prescription drugs, but you want to go ahead and get the benefit in case you might need to take drugs later, then you would have another option to choose. It really gives seniors a big choice what fits them best.

MS. HARRINGTON: I just wanted to say thank you so much for coming and adding to this. The point you made about things getting smoothed out is exactly right. The bumps in the road were just that - they're bumps in the road and the program is getting smoothed out now. We have over 36 million Americans now enjoying the peace of mind of prescription drug coverage. And we thank you for coming, because we're going to get Arkansas over the finish line. So thank you, Mrs. Bush.

MRS. BUSH: Thank you all very much.

END 3:07 P.M. CDT

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