Senator Hancock and Congressman Garamendi advise seniors at Heritage
Estates on how they can take advantage of the Medicare Part D rebate checks.
Congressman John Garamendi (D-Walnut Creek, CA) and State Senator Loni Hancock (D-Oakland, CA) on Saturday visited seniors at the Heritage Estates retirement community in Livermore. There they reminded all eligible seniors to take advantage of the $250 Medicare Part D prescription drug donut hole rebate checks that first dropped in the mail last week.
"Over the coming months, seniors who fall into the Medicare Part D donut hole will receive $250 rebate checks in the mail," Congressman Garamendi explained. "This first step marks the beginning of the end of the donut hole, which because of our new health care reform laws, will completely close by 2020."
"Our seniors deserve comprehensive and affordable health care access, and closing the Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage gap is an important part of what's necessary," Senator Hancock said. "At a time when California is constrained by difficult budgets, it's good to see the federal government step in with significant relief."
The donut hole was created by President Bush's changes to Medicare in 2005, creating a gap in Medicare Part D coverage where seniors are expected to pay for their prescriptions out-of-pocket. The $250 rebate checks are just the first benefit from health reform for seniors in the Medicare Prescription Drug program under the health care reform signed into law in March. Checks will continue to be mailed monthly over the next several months as seniors enter the coverage gap. Beginning in January 2011, seniors in the donut hole will receive a 50 percent discount on brand name drugs. By 2020, the donut hole will be completely closed.
"From Medicare Part D rebate checks to ending denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions to allowing young adults under the age of 26 to join their parents' health care plan, the Democratic health care reform bill is delivering real reform right now," Rep. Garamendi added.
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, seniors should 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.