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WEDNESDAY, MAY 10, 2006
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Official warns Medicare plan deadline nears

MONTGOMERY (AP)— Although Alabama is among states leading the nation with eligible seniors enrolled in a new Medicare drug plan, a federal official said Tuesday those who haven't signed up should do so by Monday or possibly face higher premiums later.

About three-quarters of Alabama's eligible seniors have enrolled, according to state officials. The remainder can pick a plan and enroll with a 30-minute phone call, said U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt

"We're deeply concerned about people we haven't reached yet," he said at a news conference with state officials at the Montgomery Regional Airport. Leavitt stopped in Alabama as part of a national public awareness campaign.

Out of the 750,000 people eligible for the plans in Alabama, about 580,000 have enrolled, said Irene Collins, director of the Alabama Department of Senior Services.

Seniors can also speak to state officials about the programs by calling (800) AGE-LINE.

Some seniors believe they must meet income qualifications for the programs.

"This has nothing to do with your income," Collins said. "This is an insurance program."

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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