President starts campaign to push prescription drug benefit

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President Bush last week kicked off a major government-wide campaign to promote the Medicare prescription drug benefit, which is scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1.

The government is targeting all potential recipients of the benefit, including dual beneficiaries, or those who receive Medicare and Medicaid. They comprise about 70% of nursing home residents.

The campaign involves a massive effort from various government agencies, including the Social Security Administration and the departments of Labor, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation and Veterans Affairs. Medical providers, community organizations and local partners will also team up with the federal government to educate beneficiaries about the benefit.

Seniors and those with disabilities can enroll in the new drug plans any time from Nov. 15, 2005, to May 15, 2006. Dual beneficiaries are automatically enrolled in a plan. The federal government expects 28 million to 30 million Medicare beneficiaries to sign up for drug coverage in the first year.

A transcript of the president's remarks last week is available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/06/20050616-6.html.