Rep. Napolitano: 'Donut Hole' Checks Are On Their Way
(Washington D.C.)- Today, Rep. Grace F. Napolitano announced that starting tomorrow Medicare will begin mailing out $250 checks to seniors stuck in the Medicare Part D ‘donut hole.’ As part of the recently enacted health care reform law, seniors who fall in the donut hole coverage gap in 2010 will receive a one-time tax-free $250 rebate check. These checks will continue to be mailed monthly over the next several months for any new seniors that enter the coverage gap.
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.
“The lack of coverage in the ‘donut hole’ costs many seniors thousands of dollars a year,” Napolitano said. “These checks will be a first step towards reducing prescription drug costs and eventually closing the donut hole altogether.”
Seniors fall into the ‘donut hole’ once their prescription drug costs exceed $2,830, forcing them to pay 100 percent of their drug costs until they hit the catastrophic coverage threshold at $6,440.
Last year, roughly 382,000 Medicare beneficiaries in California fell in the donut hole and received no extra help to lower the cost of their prescription drugs.
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 Rep. Napolitano warned seniors to be on the lookout for fraud.
“There are scammers and con artists who target seniors and use government programs as a cover for their crimes,” Napolitano said. “Seniors should know these checks will be sent out automatically, free of charge, and be wary of people who ask for money or personal information.”
Other benefits for seniors within health care reform include:
- Free preventive care services under Medicare, beginning in 2011.
- Increased stability for Medicare by extending its solvency by an additional 12 years, from 2017 to 2029.
- Expansion of home and community-based services to keep seniors in their own homes instead of nursing homes.