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Home   /   Capitol Connection   /   Capitol Connection 05/08/2006

May 15th Deadline to Enroll in Medicare Part D

With only a week before the May 15, 2006 deadline for Medicare beneficiaries to enroll without penalty in the newly established Medicare Part D, I am encouraged by the large number of individuals who have taken advantage of this prescription drug benefit across the nation. Over 27 million Medicare beneficiaries nationwide now have prescription drug coverage while saving money on their prescription drugs. National organizations such as the AARP and NAACP are encouraging as many of their members to enroll in the benefit before next week’s deadline, and national media outlets including the New York Times continue to report how individuals who enroll are saving money. In Western North Carolina alone, over 98,000 Medicare recipients are now receiving prescription drug coverage and are saving money in the process. I am very pleased with the fact that over 70% of Medicare beneficiaries in WNC are now receiving coverage, and I look forward to continue working with my colleagues in the House to improve and refine this benefit in order to save seniors even more money on their prescription drug cost while providing greater access to some form of coverage.

If you are a Medicare recipient and have not enrolled in this benefit, I strongly encourage you to enroll at some point this week to avoid being subject to a penalty. In order to enroll, please call 1-800-MEDICARE. When calling, have your Medicare Card, a list of drugs that you use and the name of the pharmacy available to get immediate help in choosing your plan. If you use the Internet, or have a friend or family member that can help you, you can also get personalized help at

Appropriations Season Begins

The House will begin its annual appropriations process this week – the way in which the federal government provides funding for all kinds of programs, from bullet-proof armor for troops serving in Iraq to assisting in improving patient care at hospitals. The first three bills will be considered at the Full Appropriations Committee this week will be FY07 Agriculture Appropriations bill, the FY07 Military Quality of Life bill and the FY07 Interior Appropriations bill.

As Chairman of the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, the Fiscal Year 2007 Interior bill I will be presenting to the Full Appropriations Committee this week recommends reducing overall federal spending by $143 million versus last year’s enacted level. This bill reflects my commitment to cutting the federal deficit and eliminating wasteful government programs. Since becoming Interior Subcommittee Chairman three years ago, in fact, I have reduced overall spending by the Subcommittee by more than 3%. Even with this overall reduction, however, we are fulfilling our promise to protect America’s vital natural resources by: increasing funds for the operation of our national parks (including the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site) by $20 million; enhancing wildland firefighting efforts by more than $60 million; and, increasing support for the redevelopment of environmental “brownfields” and for Superfund enforcement efforts by more than $4 million. As the appropriations process continues, please be assured that I will continue to support vital WNC programs while reining in federal spending.

2006 Summer Page Selected

I am pleased to announce the selection of Estella Snowden of Hayesville, NC as a summer House Page for the United States House of Representatives. Estella, who is a junior at Hayesville High School, is one of 104 students nationwide selected for the honor. She is the daughter of Constance McCorkle and Samuel Snowden of Hayesville. Estella will serve as a House Page during the first summer session from June 11, 2006 until July 1, 2006. Only a select few of our finest young citizens are chosen to serve as Congressional pages, and I would like to congratulate Estella for being selected for this prestigious honor.

Opportunities 2006 Wrap Up

On March 13, I was proud to sponsor the Opportunities 2006 seminar held at the Grove Park Inn, along with Representatives Patrick McHenry and Virginia Foxx in Western North Carolina, and Representative Gresham Barrett in Upstate South Carolina. Opportunities 2006 was a regional “reverse” trade show that allowed small businesses the opportunity to meet contracting officers from more than 60 federal, state and local government agencies and prime contractors.

Opportunities 2006 allowed small business owners to market their products and services, and take advantage of business opportunities, from the “largest purchaser of goods and services in the world”: government agencies. Seminars included the latest information on the basics of federal and state contracting, plus information for women, minorities and veterans.

I am pleased to inform you that the Opportunities 2006 Post-Event Website is now up available online at At this website, you will be able to get complete coverage of the event, including links to download a number of the presentations made at the seminar and the announcement of the date for Opportunities 2008: March 10, 2008.