U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) today announced that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will begin distributing $250 rebate checks to seniors who reach the prescription drug coverage gap, or "doughnut hole," starting Thursday, June 10, and continuing throughout the year. Seniors will receive checks automatically without filing extra paperwork or submitting a formal request.
"Too many of our seniors are struggling to pay for the medicine and care they need," said Stabenow. "This week, because of health insurance reform, seniors who reach the doughnut hole coverage gap for Medicare prescription drugs will receive $250 rebate checks to help them pay for their medicine. This is just the first step to completely closing this coverage gap, making prescription drugs more affordable for seniors in Medicare."
In 2008, more than 8.5 million seniors hit the Medicare Part D coverage gap, requiring them to pay for prescription drugs at full price until they reached the level to qualify for catastrophic coverage. According to CMS, an estimated 134,000 Medicare beneficiaries in Michigan hit the doughnut hole and received no extra help to defray the cost of their prescription drugs.
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, a one-time $250 rebate check will be issued to seniors who hit the prescription drug coverage gap in 2010. Starting in 2011, seniors who reach the coverage gap will receive a 50 percent discount on all brand-name drugs and biologics needed. This discount will be in effect until the gap is closed entirely over the next ten years.
As the rebate checks for 2010 are mailed, CMS urges seniors to be wary of scams and fraud. Seniors should not provide any personal information such as Medicare, Social Security, or bank account numbers to anyone claiming the information is necessary to receive the rebate checks. CMS will coordinate with the Health and Human Services Department to make sure seniors have all the necessary information to protect against fraud. For more information about this, visit www.Medicare.gov .