About 1.9 million elderly and disabled people signed up for the new Medicare drug benefit over the past month, meaning 7.2 million have taken steps to enroll since the program began Jan. 1. The number should keep rising, the program’s chief says.
An additional 20 million people have been enrolled automatically because they participate in other government programs, such as Medicaid, or because they have drug coverage through their former employer. Those employers are getting a tax subsidy to continue providing the coverage.
About 43 million people are eligible for the benefit.
“Since January, we’ve seen a steady, increasing rate of enrollment, and we expect to continue seeing that until May 15,” Mark McClellan, administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said Thursday.
That is the deadline for enrolling. People who sign up later probably will have to pay higher premiums; many members of Congress have proposed extending the deadline past May 15.
Search continues for two boys
An airplane equipped with heat sensors searched Thursday for two missing boys while bloodhounds scrambled through the neighborhood where the youngsters disappeared, hoping to find clues in a case that has baffled investigators for five days.
Family members suspect the boys were taken by someone, but Linda Krieg, FBI assistant special agent, said there was no evidence the pair had been abducted or a crime committed.
“It’s very difficult to abduct a child, let alone two children,” Krieg said. “It’s outside the norm of what we see in child abduction.”
But the efforts produced no clues in the disappearance of Quadrevion Henning, 12, and Purvis Virginia Parker, 11, who were last seen Sunday afternoon heading out to play basketball at a park.
Rancho Dominguez, Calif.
Legislator’s loot sold at auction
The silver-plated candelabras went for $2,000. An armoire with beveled mirrors pulled in $4,000. And a marble-topped night stand sold for $1,250.
Piece by piece, the furniture, rugs and other high-end home furnishings that former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham accepted as bribes were auctioned off by the government Thursday, bringing in $94,625.
Cunningham, a Republican, was sentenced this month to more than eight years in federal prison for tax evasion and conspiracy. Prosecutors said he collected $2.4 million in bribes from defense contractors in exchange for steering government contracts and other favors their way.
The auction took place in a cavernous warehouse near Los Angeles. The money will be split by the Internal Revenue Service and the FBI.
An elaborately patterned, Oriental-style rug from Cunningham’s former mansion sold for the highest price, $10,000. A second one was purchased for $9,000. A French Provincial walnut armoire fetched $7,100.