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Health secretary visits SD to promote new Medicare program

The U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Mike Leavitt, made a brief stop in San Diego Wednesday. The visit was part of a 60-city tour to urge seniors to sign up for one of the new Medicare prescription drug plans. KPBS Reporter Kenny Goldberg has the story.

The deadline for seniors to select a Medicare prescription drug plan is May 15th.

Millions of seniors nationwide have yet to do so. Critics say it's because the program offers too many choices and is hopelessly confusing.

Dozens of U.S. Senators have asked the federal government to extend the deadline.
But Secretary Mike Leavitt says that's not a good idea.

Leavitt: People need a deadline. The actuaries tell me that if we didn't have a deadline, fewer people would sign up, it's just human nature. People have 30 days.

Seniors who miss the May 15th deadline will have to pay a penalty to sign up at a later date.

Leavitt says it takes just minutes to enroll. He says polls show when people get into a plan they like it. Kenny Goldberg, KPBS News.

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