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Open season nears for Medicare Part D

By By Jo Bonner
The next open season for enrollment in the permanent Medicare prescription drug benefit, Medicare Part D, is just around the corner. It is November 15, 2006, through December 31, 2006.
The prescription drug program offered by Medicare helps America's seniors meet the cost of their medication. During this enrollment period, you can call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) and talk to a Medicare representative or visit www.medicare.gov.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently announced that Alabama ranked number one among southeastern states and fourth in the nation in enrollment in the Medicare prescription drug plan.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) set the enrollment goal for Alabama at 538,002. Alabama exceeded that goal and enrolled 620,300 or 115.3 percent. Nationally, only three states finished ahead of Alabama: California (118.6%), Colorado (117.0%), and New Mexico (115.4%). In the First Congressional District, 89,413 or 81percent of Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in the program.
Constituent Services
One of the most important duties of my job representing the Alabama's First Congressional District is working on your behalf in your efforts to deal with federal bureaucracies.
Whether it's a problem you are having getting your veterans benefits restored or obtaining your IRS refund, my office can assist you with cutting through the red tape of federal agencies. While we cannot make an agency decide a case in your favor, we can assist you by seeing that it gets fair consideration.
We have assisted residents who have had problems with their Social Security and Medicare benefits and those who have had problems with the Internal Revenue Service.
Veterans with questions concerning claims for VA pensions, disability benefits, care in VA hospitals, burial benefits, and military records have also contacted my office for assistance.
Many residents of south Alabama have used my office as a resource, and I encourage you to do the same. Since 2003, we have helped over 9,000 constituents in dealing with the federal government.
The Federal Privacy Act requires us to have written authorization to act on your behalf. To comply, Privacy Act forms can be obtained on my website http://bonner.house.gov, from my Mobile and Baldwin County offices, or you may simply send a brief description of your problem. If you write, call, or email, please include your Social Security number and/or VA number.
Visiting Washington?
Earlier this year, my staff and I compiled a brochure of places to see while visiting Washington, D.C. While this is not an exhaustive list of things to do in our nation's capital, it does include many of my favorite places. If you would like to request a copy of this free brochure, please call my office at 1-800-288-8721.
From monuments to museums to memorials, there are so many things to do and see in this fascinating city so rich with history and so full of places to explore.
The must-see stop on any visit to the nation's capital is the U.S. Capitol building itself. With at least a week's notice, my office can schedule a guided tour by a member of my staff, Monday through Friday, or you can receive a tour from the Capitol Guide Service on a first-come, first-served basis.
If your time in D.C. does not allow for a tour of the Capitol, I would encourage you to call my office and request passes to visit the House gallery, where you can view the proceedings on the House floor, when the House is in session.
Please keep in mind there are security restrictions in place throughout the nation's capital that require visitors to plan their trips in advance. For example, tours of the White House are subject to strict U.S. Secret Service approval. Tours can only be requested for groups of 10 or more people and must be requested through my office at least three months in advance. Unfortunately, many of the tour requests are not approved because of the volume of requests made each day.
Other popular landmarks offering congressional reservations include the Supreme Court, the Library of Congress, the State Department, and the Bureau of Printing and Engraving. Congressional reservations are limited, so I encourage you to contact my office about three months ahead of the date you plan to visit. Because these reservations are limited, I do give preference to the residents of Alabama's First District.
Remember the monuments, memorials, and many of the museums throughout the city do not require reservations and are free to the public. Also, parking is extremely limited, and I encourage all visitors to take advantage of the Metro rail and taxis.
My staff and I work for you. If we can ever be of service, do not hesitate to call my office toll free at 1-800-288-8721 or visit my website http://bonner.house.gov.
Jo Bonner is a U.S. congressman. His column appears weekly.