Governor Makes Plea to President Bush

The deadline for American Seniors to enroll in the new Medicare Part D
prescription drug program is May 15th. But Governor Easley wants President Bush to extend that deadline because in his words "
thousands of North Carolina seniors would suffer financial consequences for years to come. "

Here is the governor's letter to President Bush:

Many seniors in North Carolina will incur a significant financial penalty for failing to enroll in the new Medicare Part D prescription drug program by May 15, 2006. Given the complexity of the program and the confusion that has surrounded the implementation of the program, I urge you to take immediate action to protect our seniors by extending the enrollment deadline.

While Medicare Part D has benefited many seniors, others have been left bewildered by the complicated nature of the new program. Despite exemplary efforts by North Carolina’s Seniors Health Insurance Information Program, senior advocates and outreach coordinators in each of our one hundred counties, an estimated 326,000 of our eligible seniors have not enrolled. Only 47 percent of North Carolina seniors applying for federal premium assistance have been approved despite estimates that many more are eligible.

I understand that the financial penalty provision was designed to avoid having only those with high drug costs enroll in the program. In this case, however, it is unnecessary and unfair. Without an extension, our seniors will suffer financial consequences for years to come for failure to quickly grasp a new and complex program for which accurate information is often not readily available. I think you will agree that this is simply not fair to our seniors who have served our country so well.

I urge your immediate support for an extension of the deadline to give seniors the needed time to ensure that they make the most informed decision possible regarding their prescription drug coverage. I appreciate your consideration of my request on behalf of North Carolina’s senior citizens.