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Congressman C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger

Representing the 2nd District of Maryland

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Extending the Medicare Deadline

May 9, 2006
Speech

Good Afternoon. 

Thank you all for coming today.

I would like to acknowledge Senator Benjamin Cardin…  I mean Congressman Benjamin Cardin and Congressman Elijah Cummings. 

I would also like to acknowledge Josh Sharfstein from the Baltimore County Department of Health…  Josh Stewart from the Baltimore City Department of Aging… and Pearl Lewis from the Maryland Renal Advocates.   

We are all here today to talk about the new prescription drug benefit available through Medicare. 

Seniors have worked hard, raised their families, and paid their taxes. 

They deserve a prescription drug benefit that allows them to buy the medicines they need at a reasonable price so they can stay healthy and enjoy their golden years.  

I did NOT vote for the Prescription Drug Bill when it came before Congress. 

The plan does not lower the cost of prescription drug costs for our Seniors. 

It does NOT allow the government to negotiate with the drug companies to lower prices on behalf of all Seniors. 

I believe that is un-American. 

The Veterans Administration negotiates with drug companies for out Vets… so why can’t we negotiate for our Seniors. 

I think we can do a lot better for our Seniors. 
I am working hard on Capitol Hill to improve this legislation. 

The other problem with the program is it is incredibly CONFUSING! 

There are a myriad of options available. 

I know a lot of Seniors are very upset…. understandably so. 

But the fact remains that the legislation is now law… and we must do all we can to help Seniors get whatever benefits they can from it. 

According to the federal government more than 190,000 Seniors WHO ARE ELIGIBLE for the prescription drug benefit have NOT signed up. 

Today is Tuesday, May 9th….  The deadline to sign up is May 15th… that’s next Monday – less than a week away. 

If Seniors don’t sign up by then… and try to sign up after the deadline they will be penalized and forced to pay more for their drug coverage.    

The problem is lots of Seniors just don’t know it is even available. 

I’ve held more than a dozen town halls in my district, the Maryland 2nd District.  We’ve brought together a group of Medicare experts and teamed them up with Seniors who have questions. 

The Seniors brought a list of their medicines and the Medicare experts helped them enter the information into a computer… to help them decide the best plan for them. 

The forums have all been well attended because Seniors are really concerned about this. 

I believe we must extend the deadline… so we can get the word out even more and give Seniors more time to sign up.  Our Seniors deserve this. 

Thank You.

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