Seniors need the best information on how the Affordable Care Act affects them--and how to avoid scams--and Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy will be working to get this crucial information out. As a result of health reform, beginning this Thursday seniors who have fallen into the Medicare Part D "donut hole' coverage gap will begin to receive $250 checks to lower their prescription drug costs. More than 4 million seniors who face the donut hole will get checks throughout the rest of the year. This is the beginning of the effort to protect seniors as the donut hole is closed over the next several years. But that's just part of the information seniors need to know.
President Obama and Congress are implementing a new outreach campaign to protect seniors and taxpayers from scams and Medicare fraud. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and senior officials from the Administration on Aging and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services are heading up the efforts to give seniors the information they need to protect themselves from scams or fraud when it comes to their Medicare benefits.
"There's been so much misinformation about health reform--and understandably, seniors are concerned," said Congresswoman McCarthy. "The $250 payment is one of the first benefits to seniors in the health reform legislation, but it not the only one. We will work to get the word out that the Affordable Care Act not only reins in drug costs, but extends the solvency of Medicare by over a decade. Americans have earned these Medicare benefits with a lifetime of work--and this Congress will make sure that the benefits will be there for them when they need them. Reform will also mean better chronic care for seniors, with doctors coordinating more on your treatment, and free preventive care. It will help more seniors stay in their homes with expanded access to community-based care. For early retirees, reform means important new benefits to help them and their employer afford coverage. And we are still working in Congress to guarantee you can keep the Medicare doctor of your choice--because they are efficiently compensated."
The Department of Health and Human Services will be launching an educational media campaign this summer to educate Medicare beneficiaries about the importance of staying vigilant with their personal Medicare information and getting the facts about the new law to seniors so that scam artists are not able to prey on them. Additionally, the new reform law significantly increases the tools and resources prosecutors have to fight Medicare fraud and redirect those now wasted dollars back to seniors' care.
The first $250 checks are being mailed June 10 to Medicare beneficiaries who entered the Medicare Part D "donut hole", also known as the coverage gap, in the first quarter of 2010. The donut hole is the period in the prescription drug benefit in which the beneficiary pays 100 percent of the cost of their drugs until they hit the catastrophic coverage.
"The more seniors know about health care reform and the steps we are taking to protect them from fraud, the more they can take advantage of the benefits and avoid falling victim to the latest scams," said Congresswoman McCarthy. I will continue to fight for our seniors every step of the way."