INTRO: Millions of older American lives are in upheaval, since the Presidents Medicare Part D plan has gone in effect. Beginning January 1st., prescription drug coverage became available to Medicare recipients. There is a wide array of plans, which has given rise to confusion, and the Department of Health and Human Services has sent out a special bus which is touring the States in an effort to bring education and information to a confused public. The Centers for Medicare and Medicare Service bus arrived in Spring Hill on Friday at Congresswoman Ginny Brown-Waite’s request. WMNF’s Mark Antokas files this report.

SCRIPT: In the parking lot of St. Francis Cabrini Church on Mariner Boulevard in Spring Hill on Friday, was a well-painted bus which is touring the states in an effort to bring information to a confused public. Inside the church were tables manned by counselors who stood ready to help beneficiaries with prescription drug plan choices and enrollment. Jean Lynch was one of the perhaps a dozen or so of those waiting for answers to their questions. Roll Tape:

Congresswoman Ginny Brown-Waite appeared at eleven AM, spoke for about eight minutes to the crowd which had dwindled to about ten people, and then took questions from the press. WMNF asked her about Jean Lynch. Roll Tape:

But there were still a lot of questions. John Robert Preston was there and after a lengthy counseling session, he came away without any clear answers, despite being told of a particular plan that would benefit him best. Roll Tape:

Congresswoman Brown-Waite defended her vote in Congress in support of the Presidents plan, but added that she was in favor of negotiating the cost of drugs with the Pharmaceutical Industry. Roll Tape:

Outside, WMNF had another opportunity to ask Brown-Waite what she thought about the poor showing at the event. Roll Tape:

When questions about the War are raised, Brown-Waite, who believes in America’s continued involvement in Iraq, gets testy. Brian Moore is Chairman of the Nature Coast Coalition for Peace and Justice. He was there to ask his Congresswoman about her recent return from Iraq. Roll Tape:

Here, Moore speaks of his frustration. Roll Tape:

SOCK-OUT: Medicare recipients will need to make a choice on what plan they will sign up for by May 15th of this year or face a penalty. You can call 1-800-MEDICARE or log onto www. Visit our database for Congresswoman Brown-Waite’s contact info. Reporting from Spring Hill, this is Mark Antokas for WMNF radio news.

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