Gov. Urges President, HHS Sec. to Support Extending Medicare Part D deadline

From the Office of Governor John Lynch

With 40 Percent of NH Seniors Still Not Signed Up, Governor Urges President, HHS Secretary to Support Extending Medicare Part D Enrollment Deadline

CONCORD - With the latest federal figures showing that 40 percent of New Hampshire seniors have still not signed up for Medicare Part D, Gov. John Lynch today urged President Bush and Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt to support extending the May 15th enrollment deadline.

As the Medicare Part D law is now written, eligible seniors must enroll by May 15th or pay an additional 1 percent penalty on top of their premiums for every month they delay enrolling.

" The current deadline for seniors to enroll is just three weeks from today. But according to statistics released last week by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, more than 76,000 eligible New Hampshire seniors - or 40 percent - still have not enrolled, " Gov. Lynch wrote.

" Despite the best efforts of many state officials and nonprofit organizations, these seniors, faced with a confusing array of choices, still have not received the assistance they need to enroll in the right plan for them, " Gov. Lynch wrote. " That is why it is critical that the federal government extends the enrollment deadline and eliminates the penalty charge for seniors who fail to enroll by May 15, 2006. Seniors should not be pushed into making a decision that may end up being the wrong one for them because of an artificial deadline. "

In New Hampshire, Gov. Lynch issued an Executive Order and the legislature passed a bill to allow the state to provide emergency assistance to some seniors who weren't able to get their prescription drugs because of implementation problems with the new federal government. The assistance was available to people who had been receiving prescription drug assistance through the state until the new federal program began on Jan. 1.

A copy of Gov. Lynch's letter is attached.


April 24, 2006

The President
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

I write today to urge you to support extending the deadline for seniors to enroll in the new Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage program.

The current deadline for seniors to enroll is just three weeks from today. But according to statistics released last week by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, more than 76,000 eligible New Hampshire seniors - or 40 percent - still have not enrolled.

Despite the best efforts of many state officials and nonprofit organizations, these seniors, faced with a confusing array of choices, still have not received the assistance they need to enroll in the right plan for them.

That is why it is critical that the federal government extends the enrollment deadline and eliminates the penalty charge for seniors who fail to enroll by May 15, 2006. Seniors should not be pushed into making a decision that may end up being the wrong one for them because of an artificial deadline.

I trust you will agree that extending the enrollment deadline and eliminating the penalty charge is an important step, given the problems our seniors have had with the introduction of Medicare Part D. I urge you to give your support to efforts in the House and Senate to extend the deadline.

Sincerely,

John H. Lynch
Governor

cc: The Honorable Judd Gregg: United States Senate
The Honorable John Sununu: United States Senate
The Honorable Charles Bass: United States House of Representatives
The Honorable Jeb Bradley: United States House of Representatives