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In 2003, with my strong support, President Bush signed into law the Medicare Modernization and Prescription Drug Act of 2003. This legislation goes into effect on January 1, 2006, and it provides voluntary prescription drug plan (Part D) for Medicare recipients that guarantees that seniors have a choice between at least two plans under the program. This prescription drug benefit, which is the first of its kind under Medicare, allows Medicare recipients to continue using their local pharmacies. Therefore, any senior that is happy with their current coverage are not required to enroll in the program. Specifically, the legislation that was signed into law has the following provisions:

• The premium is $35 a month. After a $250 deductible, the plan pays 75% of drug costs up to $2,250 and 95% after $3,600 in annual out-of-pocket costs.
• Low income seniors pay no premiums and no deductible, with a small co-payment on all prescriptions, regardless of the costs.

While this legislation is not everything I had hoped for, it is a good start for our seniors to help strengthen Medicare for future generations. If you are interested in learning more about the new Medicare Part D or wish to enroll, please call 1-800-MEDICARE, and someone with the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) should be able to assist you.

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