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From the CQ Newsroom: Democrats to Keep Up Pressure for Delay in Medicare Deadline

MARCH 17, 2006 -- Congressional Democrats are likely to keep up a drumbeat of demands over the coming weeks for an extension of the May 15 deadline for enrollment in the new Medicare drug benefit, despite President Bush's refusal two days ago to support a delay.

The Senate adopted a GOP-sponsored amendment to its version of the fiscal 2007 budget resolution that would authorize, but not require, an extension of the deadline. It narrowly rejected, on a 49–49 vote, a proposal to mandate a delay until Dec. 31.

Lawmakers of both parties have been bombarded by complaints from seniors that the dozens of competing Medicare drug benefit plans offered by private insurance companies are too confusing. GOP leaders this week spoke with Bush about their concerns over the rocky implementation of the new benefit, which took effect Jan. 1.

If seniors do not sign up by the May 15 deadline, they face escalating premium prices for each month they delay. GOP lawmakers are likely to press Bush to change his mind as the deadline nears, lest the issue continue to dog Republicans heading into the elections.

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