Rep. Rangel announced Thursday that Medicare would begin mailing out to tens of thousands of seniors $250 ‘donut hole’ checks starting Monday, June 14 thanks to the recently passed health care reform legislation.
The ‘donut hole’ coverage gap is the period in the prescription drug benefit (once their prescription drug costs exceed $2,830) in which the beneficiary pays 100 percent of the cost of their drugs until they hit the catastrophic coverage threshold. Under the new law, seniors who fall in this gap in 2010 will receive this one-time tax-free $250 rebate check. These checks will continue to be mailed monthly over the next several months as seniors enter the coverage gap.
“For many of our seniors, rising prescription drug costs are a threat to their financial security, forcing them to sometimes choose between their medication and other equally necessary costs like food, rent and transportation.,” said Congressman Rangel. “These checks will go a long way in managing these costs and an immediate example of how our health care reform bill is helping seniors and strengthening Medicare. “
Last year, roughly 246,000 Medicare beneficiaries in New York fell in the donut hole and received no extra help to defray the cost of their prescription drugs. However, beginning next year, seniors in the donut hole will receive a 50% discount on brand name drugs until 2020, when the donut hole is completely phased out.
Medicare recipients don’t have to do anything to get the $250 check – once their drug costs for the year hit $2,830 the one-time check will be issued automatically. However, Rep. Rangel warned seniors to be on the lookout for fraud.
“Residents should beware of scams that would ask for your private information like your Social Security number or bank account number or try to impose fees in order to qualify for this money,” said Rangel. “If you have any questions, you can feel free to call my New York or DC offices or send me an email through my web site at rangel.house.gov.”
HEALTH CARE REFPORM BENEFITS FOR SENIORS
Making prescription drugs more affordable for seniors is only one of the many benefits for seniors included in the recently enacted health reform law. Other benefits for seniors include:
- Provides free preventive care services under Medicare, beginning in 2011.
- Strengthens Medicare by extending its solvency by an additional 12 years, from 2017 to 2029.
- Improves seniors’ access to doctors.
- Continues to reduce waste, fraud and abuse.
- Improves care by helping doctors communicate and coordinate.
- Expands home and community-based services to keep seniors in their home, instead of in nursing homes.