FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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February 03, 2006
Medicare Rx Education Network

STATEMENT

Former U.S. Senator John Breaux, honorary chairman of the Medicare Rx Education Network, made the following statement regarding U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt's Secretary’s One Month Progress Report on the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit:

“Secretary Leavitt’s one-month progress report on the Medicare prescription drug benefit is good news for America’s seniors. Competition is delivering results, with average premiums down a third ($37 to $25) from original estimates, and the net cost to taxpayers has already dropped 20 percent for this year and 10 percent over the next five years.

“CMS is correcting the transition problems and has really stepped up its efforts in that regard. We are seeing positive results. For example, wait times on Medicare’s hotline have dropped from five minutes to one minute, and Medicare has changed its transition guidance so that beneficiaries can get an additional 60 days of transitional coverage. That means that plans are providing a full 90 days of prescription coverage. This extra time will help smooth the transition.

“It is encouraging that Medicare beneficiaries are showing their confidence in the benefit by continuing to sign up — 20,000 a day just online. With this prescription drug benefit, America’s seniors will have a complete healthcare program guaranteeing coverage for hospitals, doctors and prescription drugs.”

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The Medicare Rx Education Network provides information and assistance with outreach and enrollment for the new Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit. The network, which includes 70 national organizations, is chaired by former U.S. Senator John Breaux. Members share an interest in educating Medicare beneficiaries about the new Medicare prescription drug benefit and will work closely with the appropriate federal agencies to obtain up-to-date information to ensure that information disseminated by the network about Medicare Part D is factual and accurately conveyed, thereby pre-empting confusion about the benefit and equipping beneficiaries and their caregivers to make informed choices. By sharing information with each other about member organizations’ independent efforts, collaborating on activities, and identifying ways to work together, the network aims to eliminate duplication of efforts and maximize the effectiveness of outreach efforts. The network does not engage in legislative activities or take positions on pending legislative or administrative policies related to the Part D benefit and its implementation.

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