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1,760 Seniors in California's 51st Congressional District Have Already Received "Donut Hole" Checks As a Result of Health Reform


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I announced last month that new data show that 1,760 seniors in the 51st Congressional District of California have so far received the $250 "donut hole' checks, that were provided by the health reform law, to begin to close the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap -- as of October 1, 2010. In total, these seniors in our district have received a total of $440,000 to help pay their high drug costs.

Furthermore, an additional 4,240 seniors in our Congressional District are expected to enter the donut hole before the end of 2010 and will also be receiving a $250 check to help with their drug costs. As a result, by the end of the year, a total of 6,000 seniors in our district will have received assistance to help cover the cost of their drugs. The total amount of assistance provided to seniors in the district will be $1.5 million.

This is just a first step in closing the prescription drug donut hole for our seniors. Closing the donut hole for senior's prescriptions is just one of the real benefits that we will soon see from healthcare reform.

One of the immediate benefits of the health reform legislation signed into law in March is this assistance to seniors with high drug costs. This year, all seniors who have prescription drug expenses of $2,830 or more -- and thereby enter the Medicare Part D "donut hole' coverage gap -- are receiving a one-time tax-free $250 rebate check.

These checks are being mailed out every couple of weeks. Nationwide, as of October 21, 2010, more than 1.8 million seniors have received the $250 rebate check. It is estimated that by the end of the year about 4 million seniors will have received the check nationwide.

In addition, under health reform, Part D donut hole benefits will increase beginning in January 2011, when all seniors who hit the donut hole receive a 50% discount on brand-name drugs, saving the average senior entering the donut hole more than $500 annually. These discounts will save seniors in the district more than $3.2 million next year.

The benefits to seniors with high drug costs increase on a regular basis under the health reform law. The discount on brand-name drugs increases to 52.5% in 2013 and to 55% in 2015. The savings continue to grow until the donut hole is completely eliminated in 2019.

Congressional Republicans created the donut hole -- leaving thousands of seniors to choose between buying the prescriptions they need and putting food on the table -- and now they promise to try to repeal the reforms that close it.

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