Bush hits road, ramps up fundraising

Compiled from Times wires
Published June 17, 2006

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - President Bush flew across the country Friday to raise more than $1-million for a pair of political candidates, part of a stepped-up fundraising pace aimed at helping the GOP retain its majority in Congress.

On Friday, the president flew from the White House to Seattle to help freshman Rep. Dave Reichert and the state Republican Party raise more than $830,000. Then he traveled to New Mexico for a two-hour stop to raise $375,000 for Rep. Heather Wilson.

Reichert and Wilson represent districts that voted for Democrat John Kerry for president in 2004.

Bush predicted this week that Republicans will maintain majority control of the House and Senate this November, and he's raising money to improve their chances.

Estimate of seniors with drug coverage drops

WASHINGTON - About 500,000 fewer Medicare beneficiaries have prescription drug coverage than the federal government originally projected this month.

The drop occurred because many of the 3-million beneficiaries being counted as getting coverage through the Veterans Affairs Department had switched over to a private plan under Medicare Part D, so they were being counted twice, said Mark McClellan, administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The federal government now estimates that about 38.2-million beneficiaries have prescription drug coverage, either through the new Medicare drug benefit or their employer or other government programs. But in a June 8 conference call, federal officials said about 38.7-million beneficiaries had drug coverage.

Overall, there are close to 43-million people eligible for the new drug benefit, which began Jan. 1.

McClellan said the new numbers reflect that the Medicare program was more popular with veterans than had been anticipated. When VA officials ran final numbers after the May 15 enrollment deadline, they found about a third of those seniors in VA drug coverage had enrolled in a private plan under Medicare Part D.