There's still no word from the feds about saving SeniorCare .

Lt. Governor Barbara Lawton is in Washington D.C. all week, meeting with Wisconsin's Congressional delegation, discussing strategies to help convince U.S. Health Secretary Michael Leavitt to extend SeniorCare to June 30, 2010.

“We have 105,000 Wisconsin seniors who are counting on this prescription drug benefit in lieu of Medicare Part-D. And this program has saved our federal government hundreds of millions of dollars since it was put in place.”

Both Democrats and Republicans in our state agree the prescription drug program for seniors is cost-effective, comprehensive and uncomplicated. Lawton says there is a sense of urgency to save the program.

“We just learned that Wisconsin ranks third worst in the nation for the high number of applicants to Medicare Part-D who are denied due to the asset level. Were we to end SeniorCare, we would have people who would go without a program.”

Lawton says it's hard to believe the feds would go ahead and shut down a perfectly good program, which should be held up as an example to the rest of the nation of how to properly treat senior citizens.

“So there's a lot that rides on this, including political fortunes.”

Secretary Leavitt had said when he was in Milwaukee that in order to save SeniorCare, it has to show “budget neutrality” — or it can't be more expensive than Part-D. Also, he said, it might be against the law to have another program when Part D is available. Lawton says Leavitt could issue the waiver if he really wanted to. SeniorCare is set to expire at the end of June.

NOTE: Lawton says she has not had an opportunity to meet directly with Bush or Leavitt, but still has hope to do so perhaps at a national Lt. Governor's Association meeting at the White House Wednesday.

AUDIO: Jackie Johnson report (1:39 MP3)

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