Beginning July 6, Medicare will begin accepting applications from U.S. seniors with cancer, multiple sclerosis and other diseases to participate in a lottery in which 50,000 winners will receive government help in paying for their medicine. The lottery, designed to get a head start on the full 2006 implementation of the broad prescription coverage for seniors but with funding limited to $500 million, will help buy drugs for 25,000 cancer patients and 25,000 people with other diseases, but still will leave an estimated 450,000 other patients waiting until 2006.

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