We are pleased to see the early results of our efforts to help inform and educate people with Medicare about the new prescription drug coverage and the extra help that will be available beginning on January 1. The Social Security Administration is now processing the more than three million applications it has received so far, and we expect that many of them will qualify for that extra help and even more will apply. This is an unprecedented initial response for a voluntary federal program for people with limited means.
The CMS actuaries projected that about 4.6 million people with Medicare were expected to enroll in the program for extra help by 2006, and this is a good start in that direction.
This is one component of the extensive efforts to help those who have really been struggling to pay for their medicines. We applaud the efforts of all of the federal agencies that are working with the tens of thousands of individuals and organizations all across the U.S. who are bringing information about the new drug coverage and the extra help to people with Medicare. But the effort is not over, we still have lots of work to do.