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WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement today after President Bush made remarks on the Medicare prescription drug program in Silver Spring, MD:
“The Republicans’ Medicare prescription drug plan has truly been a double whammy for the American public. First, American taxpayers were socked with a bill that was over twice as much – $932 billion – as the Bush Administration’s advertised price. Then, seniors were forced to grapple with a system so confusing and complicated that many still cannot navigate their way through the program. The Bush Administration’s bungled roll-out of the drug program has put an undue burden on seniors and their families, and has led more than 20 states to declare public health emergencies.
“The cost of prescription drugs in this country has skyrocketed beyond what most American families can afford, and it is imperative that we extend the time allotted for seniors to enroll in the Medicare prescription drug plan. That is why I have joined several of my Democratic colleagues in requesting that the Administration delay the deadline for penalty-free enrollment from May 15, 2006, which is the current deadline, until December 31, 2006. It is patently unfair that seniors who are unable to navigate the plan’s enrollment labyrinth are penalized with what amounts to a ‘Bush Prescription Drug Tax.’
“Furthermore, seniors should be able to change plans during the first year of their enrollment if they are unsatisfied. Many seniors rely on prescription drugs for their health and well-being, and they should be provided ample time to understand this overwhelmingly complex drug plan. America can, and should, do better than the Republicans’ convoluted attempt at providing relief for our seniors.”