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Tuesday, October 11th, 2005 -- 2:27 PM

Good news for Wisconsin seniors. Governor Jim Doyle announced that he and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt have reached an agreement which will allow Wisconsin's SeniorCare prescription drug program to continue at least through the life of its existing federal waiver, June 30, 2007.

Governor Doyle said that he intends to request a waiver to allow SeniorCare to continue beyond 2007, and Secretary Leavitt said it would be given consideration.

Under the agreement, seniors currently enrolled in SeniorCare will be able to continue their SeniorCare benefits or enroll in Medicare Part D, which begins in 2006. Secretary Leavitt also agreed that there will be no financial penalties imposed on seniors who remain in SeniorCare and who decide to enroll in Medicare Part D at a later date. Without this agreement, SeniorCare enrollees could have faced late enrollment penalties that would have increased over time.

There are 90,000 Wisconsin seniors on SeniorCare. It?s believed 94-percent of them would be better off on SeniorCare, but seniors who qualify for a low-income subsidy may be better off under Medicare Part D.

In addition to SeniorCare and the Medicare Part D program, Governor Doyle has agreed with Secretary Leavitt that the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services will work with the federal government to develop an enhanced new Medicare Part D benefit through a state-specific "wraparound" program. The goal of the wraparound program is to provide enhanced benefits to seniors that choose the Medicare Part D program.

Over 2,000 of Clark County's 6,000 seniors are currently enrolled in SeniorCare.

Feel free to contact us with questions and/or comments.