To help the elderly and disabled with prescription drug costs, the Congress passed the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003 (MMA), which created a voluntary outpatient prescription drug benefit (Medicare Part D). A key element of the prescription drug benefit is the low-income subsidy, or "extra help," available to Medicare beneficiaries with limited income and resources to assist them in paying their premiums and other out-of-pocket costs. To assess the Social Security Administration's (SSA) implementation of the subsidy, GAO is providing information on (1) the number of applicants approved for or denied the low-income subsidy and (2) challenges of identifying individuals eligible for the subsidy and targeting outreach efforts. This statement is based on a prior GAO report on the subsidy and associated spending issued in May 2007, selected aspects of which we updated in May 2008.
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