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Democrats urge Congress to payback medicare costs



California has shelled out some $51 million to provide drugs for people who have had trouble with the new Medicare prescription drug program. Now, some Democratic members of Congress are once again pressuring the Bush administration to pay California and other states back. KPBS Reporter Kenny Goldberg has the story.

The Medicare prescription drug program was fraught with problems when it was launched in January. As a result, California and 45 other states provided emergency help to seniors who couldn't get their medications.

California Senator Dianne Feinstein introduced a bill to force the federal government to pay states back. But she didn't push the measure after administration officials promised to do so.

Now, some other Democratic members of Congress have taken up the cause. In response, Medicare officials say they hope to repay states by June.

In the meantime, President Bush is touring the country this week to promote the Medicare prescription drug program.

Millions of seniors face a May 15th deadline to sign up to one of the new plans.

Kenny Goldberg, KPBS News.

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