Report: Latinos At Higher Risk Of Missing New Drug Law Enrollment Deadline

WASHINGTON – Latino taxpayers are at a higher risk of missing the May 15 enrollment deadline for the new prescription drug law because of cultural, language and economic barriers, according to a new report released today by the Campaign for America’s Future. Today’s report found that nearly 1 million Latinos are still not enrolled in Medicare’s Part D and that Latino seniors lack prescription drug coverage at a disproportionate rate.

Those who miss the May 15 deadline will have to wait for the next sign-up period and face delayed coverage and higher premium costs, but the Bush administration says it won’t extend the deadline for everyone.

With nearly 1 million Latino Americans set to miss the May 15 cut-off date to sign up for Medicare’s complicated new prescription drug program, Rep. Hilda Solis, D-Calif., joined the Campaign for America’s Future at a news conference in the U.S. Capitol today to urge Congress to extend the deadline.

“Many beneficiaries who have limited English proficiency face an additional challenge of obtaining information in their own language,” said Rep. Solis. “We should extend the enrollment deadline, take away the fear of the penalty and give Medicare beneficiaries more time to check their facts, know their options, and make informed decisions about Part D.”

League of United Latin American Citizens policy director Dr. Gabriela Lemus contributed to the Campaign for America’s Future report.

“Many seniors are confused by the number of options and need more time to pick the best plan for them,” said Lemus. “Seniors should not be forced to pay the price for the president’s confusing prescription drug benefit. They need more time to navigate the complexities of the flawed plan.”

Today’s report found that Latinos are at high risk to miss the deadline because they are less likely to have worked at firms with employer provided pension plans and tend to work at lower-paying jobs with less accumulated savings, smaller Social Security checks and 62 percent earn incomes below 150 percent of the federal poverty level.

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**NOTE: An electronic copy of today’s report is available here.**