Congressman Bobby Rush

Representing the 1st District of Illinois

Rush Calls For Extension Of Medicare Prescriptiondrug May 15 Deadline

Feb 23, 2006
Press Release

Chicago, IL. ----  (February 23, 2006) Congressman Bobby L. Rush (D-IL), said he will ask President Bush to extend the May 15 Medicare Part D deadline in order to ensure that all recipients understand the pros and cons of the new program. The legislator made his comments during a town hall meeting at Carter Temple CME Church on the citys South Side.

This is yet another Bush administration bureaucratic mishap in blindsiding of the poor, elderly, sick, and vulnerable with the implementation of the incomprehensible Medicare Prescription Benefit Plan Part D, said Cong. Rush. Our office has been flooded with calls from concerned citizens wondering if they would lose their benefits. It is imperative that the deadline be extended until this mass confusion is cleared up.

Rush said he would join with other elected officials and health care advocates to rally to extend the deadline, and has co-sponsored legislation (H.R. 3861 Medicare Informed Choice Act of 2005) to support these efforts. We have been going throughout the district informing as many people as possible, he said. Now is time for the voice of the citizens to be heard. This can be literally a matter of life and death for some people.

 Despite attempts by the federal government to inform the public about changes to the program, many of the six million Medicare/Medicaid recipients were unaware that Medicare Part D automatically kicked in on January 1, and that they had a five month threshold to make changes to their plans. Most of the dual eligible recipients (those receiving both Medicare and Medicaid), who received letters apparently didnt understand the message. Some panicked thinking that their Social Security benefits were being cut.

 Further, Medicare recipients who enroll in a plan by May 15 must stick with that plan until the end of the year.  To date about 2 million people have voluntarily registered, leaving more than 30 million who could lose their benefits if they fail to meet the deadline.