September 30,2005

Baucus Welcomes New Prescription Drug Benefit

Many Prescription Drug Plans To Be Offered Throughout the Nation

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) U.S. Senator Max Baucus, Ranking Member of the FinanceCommittee, welcomed the announcement by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services(CMS) today that affordable Medicare drug benefits will be offered in all states beginningJanuary 1, 2006.

CMS revealed the prescription drug plan organizations that will be available in each statelast week, but today provided more detail on the premiums and coverage options eachorganization will offer. The new drug benefits will be available because of the 2003 MedicareModernization Act (MMA).

“People with Medicare have waited a long time for help with their prescription drugs,”Baucus said. “Everyone with Medicare can get help with their prescriptions by joining a planoffered by one of the national or local prescription drug organizations approved by CMS. And, inall states except Alaska, there will be even more options through Medicare Advantageorganizations offering drug benefits.”

Senator Baucus expressed concern about the large number of plan options approved forthe new benefit. Over 40 benefit designs will be offered from 21 different organizations inMontana. The number of benefits designs will greatly exceed 70 in several other states, likeCalifornia, Florida and New York.

“Seniors and people with disabilities all across the country will have to choose from alarge number of plans to access the new benefit,” Baucus said. “I urge everyone to take the timeto educate themselves, and seek advice before they pick a plan.”

Senator Baucus also advised the organizations offering drug coverage to closely followprogram guidelines when promoting their drug plans. Beginning tomorrow, October 1,organizations can begin soliciting their Medicare drug products via print, radio, and directtelemarketing to beneficiaries’ homes. Until now, Medicare has not allowed telemarketing byprivate firms that deliver Medicare benefits.

“I call upon all the firms offering drug coverage to market their plans appropriately andstrictly within the guidelines established by the program,” Baucus said. “Seniors can choosewisely, but only if they are informed and not confused about the new plans available to them.”