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Seniors in Northern Michigan Receive "Donut Hole" Checks to Combat High Drug Costs

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Congressman Bart Stupak (D-Menominee) announced today that 2,650 seniors in the First Congressional District have received a $250 "donut hole' rebate check, provided under the health care reform law, to help close the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap. As of October 1, 2010, seniors in the First Congressional District have received a total of $662,500 to help ease the burden of high drug costs.

The health reform legislation signed into law in March provides 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.

"The health care reform bill is producing tangible benefits for seniors in northern Michigan and across the country," said Stupak. "As rising drug costs continue to weigh down our seniors, it is essential that we provide these financial benefits for those who are struggling to pay for their medication."

An additional 9,150 seniors in the First 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. By the end of 2010, 11,800 seniors in the 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 $3 million.

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 care 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 per year.

The benefits to seniors with high drug costs continue to increase 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.

"The health care reform bill we passed back in March not only extends coverage to more than 30 million Americans and ends some the worst insurance industry practices, it also brings peace of my mind to our seniors by strengthening Medicare and finally closing the "donut hole' coverage gap," said Stupak.

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