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Rep. Rahall: America's Seniors, Not Illegal Aliens, Deserve Amnesty.

Location: Washington, DC

Rep. Rahall: America's Seniors, Not Illegal Aliens, Deserve Amnesty.

U.S. Rep. Nick J. Rahall (D-WV) called today's Medicare Part D deadline a "prescription drug tax for millions of seniors" and chastised those who have refused to support extending the filing deadline for the program.

"The president will talk to the Nation tonight about immigration," Rahall said. "He wants an amnesty program for illegal aliens. I wish those in Washington were as quick to give our seniors amnesty from this ridiculous Medicare tax as some are in rewarding illegal aliens with citizenship."

"Given the confusion and complexity of this program, a lifetime of penalties is a steep price for our seniors to pay," Rahall said. "Everyone should have the time and opportunity to make an informed choice about their health care coverage."

Rahall joined his colleagues in calling for an extension of the enrollment deadline to January 2007 so that individuals have enough time to choose a plan that is best for them.

"Millions of America's seniors and people with disabilities want access to affordable lifesaving medications and instead they are face higher premiums for life as they attempt to navigate what is at best a confusing and complex program," Rahall said.

The Medicare Part D program was passed by Congress and signed into legislation by President Bush in 2003. Currently, the penalty for failing to sign up by May 15 is a 1 percent charge added to any monthly premium for every month that they miss the deadline -- for life. That means any seniors signing up for the program six months late would incur a 6 percent surcharge on their prescription drugs for the rest of their lives.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates the deadline could prevent up to 1 million seniors from enrolling nationwide.

"Many seniors have yet to sign up for a drug program that works for them," Rahall said. "We should be protecting our seniors, not penalizing them for needing more time to make what is most certainly a very personal, very complex choice."

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