Thursday, June 10, 2010

Perlmutter Announces “Donut Hole” Checks On Their Way to Nearly 50,000 Colorado Seniors

Washington, D.C. – Today, Rep. Ed Perlmutter (CO-07) announced, starting tomorrow, Medicare will begin mailing out to tens of thousands of seniors nationwide $250 ‘donut hole’ checks. Under the recently enacted health reform law, seniors who fall in the donut hole coverage 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.
In Colorado , approximately 49,000 Medicare Part D Enrollees (not receiving low-income subsidies) fell Into the Prescription Drug Donut Hole in 2009. The checks are just the first benefit from health reform for seniors in the Medicare Prescription Drug program. Beginning in January 2011, seniors in the donut hole will receive a 50% discount on brand name drugs. By 2020, the donut hole will be completely closed.

“Under prior Congresses and Administrations, too many seniors were forced to choose between buying the prescriptions they need and putting food on the table. Prescription drugs cost many people thousands of dollars a year, and this check is a down payment on reducing prescription drug costs for seniors and eventually closing the donut hole altogether,” Perlmutter said.

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.

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. But Perlmutter also warned seniors to be on the lookout for fraud.

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.

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