The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
May 9, 2006

Setting the Record Straight: USA Today's Misleading Medicare Story

      In Focus: Medicare
      Setting the Record Straight

Millions Of Minorities Are Enrolling In Medicare Drug Coverage

USA Today Claims "Poor, Often Minority" Medicare Beneficiaries Are Not Enrolling In Medicare Drug Coverage. "While millions of seniors and people with disabilities are signing up and saving money, the program is being used least by those who could benefit most: poor, often minority Medicare beneficiaries." (Richard Wolf, "Those Most In Need May Miss Drug Benefit Sign-up," USA Today, 5/9/06)

But By April, More Than 70 Percent Of Eligible African Americans, More Than 70 Percent Of Eligible Hispanics, And More Than 75 Percent Of Eligible Asian Americans Are Enrolled Or Have Retiree Drug Coverage.

Low Income Beneficiaries Who Qualify For Medicare's Limited-Income Subsidy (LIS) After May 15 Will Be Able To Enroll With No Penalty. About 3 million beneficiaries who have not yet enrolled are eligible for the LIS. A one-time opportunity using a special enrollment period will enable these beneficiaries to enroll in a Medicare prescription drug plan immediately after they become eligible for the limited-income subsidy, even if this is after May 15. The extra help available through the LIS allows for comprehensive and valuable drug coverage - in most cases costing beneficiaries a few dollars for every prescription.

Medicare Is Aggressively Reaching Out To All Eligible Beneficiaries

USA Today Says Most Eligible Beneficiaries Who Have Not Yet Enrolled "Haven't Been Reached." (Richard Wolf, "Those Most In Need May Miss Drug Benefit Sign-up," USA Today, 5/9/06)

But The President Met Directly With Leaders Of Senior, Disability, And Minority Groups At The White House On March 14 To Discuss Strategies For Reaching All Seniors. The President met with organizations including the National Alliance for Hispanic Health, the National Council on Aging (NCOA), the NAACP, the AARP, Seniors Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP), and the National Baptist Convention.

Medicare Is Continuing To Work With Many Groups To Reach Hispanic Seniors Across Our Nation. The Administration Is Working With the National Alliance for Hispanic Health, the Hispanic Business Roundtable, the National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders. The Administration has also reached out through public-service announcements on Univision, Telemundo, and Spanish radio. As a result, we are getting hundreds of enrollments each day through 1-800-MEDICARE and the National Alliance's "Su Familia" helpline.

Medicare's Partners In The African American Community Have Sponsored Numerous Events To Both Educate And Enroll African Americans. These partners include the National Medical Association, the National Council on Black Aged, the NAACP, the national fraternity and sorority organizations, and the many leaders in the faith based community.

Medicare Is Taking Steps To Reach The Asian American Community. To reach the Asian American community, Medicare sponsored telephone lines in conjunction with the National Asian Pacific Center on Aging in three languages: Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese. To date, over 28,000 Asian American beneficiaries have received personalized assistance through these help lines, which have been advertised broadly in their communities. In April, President Bush and Secretary Chao participated in an Asian American outreach event in Annandale, Virginia.

Medicare Drug Coverage Is Helping Low-Income Beneficiaries

The Families USA Report Cited By USA Today Claims "The Poorest Of The Poor ... Have Worse Drug Coverage Today Than They Had Before The New Medicare Part D Program Began In January." (Families USA, "The Medicare Drug Program Fails to Reach Low-Income Seniors," May 2006)

But Medicare Provides Extra Help For Beneficiaries With Limited Income And Resources. About a third of seniors are eligible for prescription drug coverage that includes little or no premiums, low deductibles, and no gaps in coverage. On average, Medicare will pay for more than 95 percent of the costs of prescription drugs for low-income seniors.

The Families USA Report Incorrectly Suggests That Medicare Beneficiaries Previously Receiving Drug Coverage Under Medicaid ("Full-Benefit Dual Eligibles") Will Not Be Helped By The Change To Part D Drug Coverage. (Families USA, "The Medicare Drug Program Fails to Reach Low-Income Seniors," May 2006)

But All Full-Benefit Dual Eligibles Get Comprehensive Drug Coverage And Millions Of Full-Benefit Dual Eligibles Are Better Off Because:

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