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Today's hearing focuses on Medicare Part D, the program's new outpatient prescription drug benefit. On January 1, 2006, Medicare began providing this benefit, and beneficiaries have until May 15, 2006, to enroll without the risk of penalties. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which administers the Part D benefit, has undertaken outreach and education efforts to inform beneficiaries and their advisers. GAO was asked to discuss how CMS can better ensure that Medicare beneficiaries are informed about the Part D benefit. This testimony is based on Medicare: CMS Communications to Beneficiaries on the Prescription Drug Benefit Could Be Improved, GAO-06-654 (May 3, 2006).

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