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Rep. Wasserman Schultz Announces That "Donut Hole" Checks Are Now On Their Way to Tens of Thousands of Seniors

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Health Reform Law Will Help About 4 Million Seniors to Receive
$250 Checks Over Next Several Months

Rep. Wasserman Schultz announced today that Medicare will begin mailing $250 "donut hole' checks out to tens of thousands of seniors. These checks will continue to be mailed monthly over the next several months as seniors enter the coverage gap.

These rebate checks were approved as a part of the health reform law passed in March of 2010. They ensure that seniors are not left with huge co-pays on their prescriptions, but are just the first benefit from health reform for seniors in the Medicare Prescription Drug program.

Beginning in January 2011, seniors in the donut hole will receive a 50% discount on brand name drugs. By 2020, the donut hole will be completely closed.

"Our seniors in Florida pay thousands of extra dollars a year for prescription drugs. These checks are our first step in reducing the high price tag on health care," Rep. Wasserman Schultz said. "Providing rebates now will help us to start closing the donut hole, strengthening Medicare and helping our seniors."

In 2009, Florida had the second highest number of Medicare Part D enrollees who fell into the donut hole of any state-- roughly 271,000. Medicare beneficiaries in Florida had to foot huge bills for their prescription drugs.

"Republicans in Congress created the donut hole -- leaving thousands of seniors to choose between medicine or groceries," said Rep. Wasserman Schultz. "They allowed a period where, once prescription drug costs exceeded $2,830 but before they hit the catastrophic coverage threshold, a Medicare beneficiary had to pay 100% of their prescription drug costs. We promised that we'd close the donut hole and I'm happy to say that, with the passage of the health reform law, we're doing precisely that."

"If you fall within the donut hole, you don't have to do anything to get your check. Once your drug costs for the year hit $2,830, check will be issued automatically," Rep. Wasserman Schultz said.

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

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