TOPEKA Gov. Kathleen Sebelius said today she's worried that many seniors could choose the wrong prescription drug coverage because of confusion surrounding the federal Medicare program.
Medicare began offering prescription drug coverage in November, with 42,000 poor and frail elderly Kansans automatically enrolled. An additional 360,000 seniors are eligible for coverage but must choose among 41 plans by May 15, or face financial penalties.
Sebelius said during a Statehouse news conference that she's worried because from the first group of enrollees, the state has had 14,000 requests for assistance with prescriptions. Last week, the governor said the state could cover seniors' prescription costs if they were having problems getting enrolled or receiving benefits - a decision that already has cost the state $1 million.
The governor made her comments a day after Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger called on President Bush to seek legislation to push back the May 15 enrollment deadline. (See earlier story.)
While Sebelius and Praeger faced criticism today from a Republican legislator, who accused them of doing little to help seniors, Sebelius said federal officials enacted the program without consulting state officials.