U.S. Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) announced that starting tomorrow, Medicare will begin mailing out tens of thousands of $250 "donut hole' checks to seniors, to help defray the costs of prescription drugs, as part of the recent health care reform bill passed by Congress in March.
"Prescription drug costs are a significant burden on the income of seniors in both western Wisconsin and across the country," said Rep. Kind. "This check is the first step in the longer-term reform of closing the Medicare Part D coverage gap altogether."
Medicare beneficiaries don't have to do anything to get the check, they come directly to you and there are no forms to fill out--seniors should not give personal information to any caller, anyone who writes them, or any individual who comes to their door. Kind warns seniors to be on the lookout for fraud. There are already reports of scam artists trying to take advantage of seniors. More information on types of Medicare fraud can be found at www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.
In 2009, approximately 74,400 Medicare beneficiaries in Wisconsin hit the donut hole, or gap in Medicare Part D drug coverage, and received no extra help to defray the cost of their prescription drugs. Now, under health reform, help is on the way. Medicare beneficiaries in Wisconsin who hit the gap this year will automatically be mailed a one-time $250 rebate check. The checks are completely paid for through savings found in the health care system and do not add a dime to the federal deficit. The $250 checks are just the first step in reducing prescription drug prices under health care reform. Beginning in 2011, the health care reform institutes a 50 percent discount on brand name drugs in the donut hole, and completely closes the donut hole for all prescription drugs by 2020. The average senior who enters the donut hole will save $700 in 2011 and over $3000 by 2020.
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.
* Improves seniors' access to doctors.
* Continues to reduce waste, fraud and abuse.
* Improves care by helping doctors communicate and coordinate.