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Six-Month Extension Needed to Ensure Seniors Do Not Experience Lapse in Drug Coverage

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Herb Kohl, Chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, today met with Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt along with Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle to request a six-month extension of SeniorCare. Currently the monumentally successful prescription drug program is set to expire on June 30, 2007, due to the Administration's decision earlier this month to deny SeniorCare a three-year waiver that would have allowed it to continue through 2010.

"Today's meeting with Secretary Leavitt was promising. The Administration sent clear signals that extending SeniorCare for six months is a possibility, and they have committed to working together with state officials to determine a mutually acceptable plan for the transition of Wisconsin's seniors to a new drug coverage program," said Chairman Kohl. "It would be unacceptable to allow more than 103,000 seniors in Wisconsin to lose their drug coverage overnight on June 30, and based on this meeting I am hopeful that HHS will cooperate with our state to craft a solution enabling Wisconsin seniors to have the same high level of drug coverage they currently have on SeniorCare."

Earlier this month, Kohl decried the decision of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to terminate SeniorCare, which provides better drug coverage at a lower cost to seniors in Wisconsin than the federal government's prescription drug program, Medicare Part D. This decision was made only days after Chairman Kohl held a hearing to urge the preservation of SeniorCare, at which Governor Doyle and other Wisconsin SeniorCare advocates made the case for the continution of the program. Witnesses echoed what Chairman Kohl said in his opening statement: that instead of abolishing SeniorCare, the Bush Administration would be better off using the program as a nationwide model for affordable drug coverage.

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More information on Chairman Kohl's SeniorCare hearing can be found here: