Groups question government's Part D enrollment figures

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New Medicare Part D enrollment figures met some controversy this week.

The total number of beneficiaries with some form of prescription drug coverage totals about 37 million, according to Michael Leavitt, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. That includes more than one million who enrolled between late April and May 6.

In its announcement, HHS lowered its estimate of the number of beneficiaries who are eligible for the low-income subsidy. The agency now estimates that 13.2 million beneficiaries are eligible for the subsidy, compared with a previous estimate of 14.4 million.

"This sudden disappearance of 1.2 million low-income seniors makes the administration's enrollment performance appear better than warranted," Families USA said in a statement.

Also, HHS said about six million beneficiaries do not have prescription drug coverage. But Robert Hayes, president of the Medicare Rights Center, said his group estimates that about 10 million beneficiaries do not have drug coverage. Monday is the last day most beneficiaries can enroll without paying a higher premium.