Friday, November 16 , 2018, 1:13 pm | Fair 69º


‘Donut Hole’ Rebate Checks in the Mail for South Coast Seniors

The one-time, tax-free $250 payments are part of the federal health-reform law

Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, announced that beginning Thursday, Medicare will start mailing to tens of thousands of seniors $250 “donut hole” rebate checks.

Under the recently enacted health-reform law, seniors who fall in the coverage gap in 2010 will receive a one-time, tax-free $250 payment. The rebates will continue to be mailed monthly through the rest of the year to seniors as they enter the coverage gap. In 2009, 383,000 California seniors fell into the “donut hole.”

“This is the first of many benefits seniors will see as a result of the passage of health-care reform,” Capps said. “We’ve all heard heartbreaking stories about seniors forced to choose between paying for groceries and filling their prescriptions, and I’m proud to say that this $250 rebate check is the first step in closing the donut hole completely.”

Under the policy implemented for the Medicare Part D prescription drug program in 2003, seniors must pay out of pocket for their prescriptions from the time the total cost of their prescription drugs hits $2,830 until the total cost hits $4,550.

The rebate checks are just the first benefit from health reform for seniors in the Medicare Prescription Drug program. Beginning in January 2011, seniors falling in the donut hole will receive a 50 percent discount on brand-name drugs. By 2020, the gap will be completely closed. Medicare recipients don’t have to take any extra steps to get the $250 check — once their drug costs for the year hit $2,830, the one-time check will be issued automatically.

Capps also warned seniors to be on the lookout for fraud. Medicare officials have noted that fraud is most likely during times of change in the program. Click here for more information in English and Spanish about the rebate checks and how to avoid fraud.

The bill also helps seniors by:

» Providing free preventive care services under Medicare, beginning in 2011.

» Strengthening Medicare by extending its solvency.

» Improving seniors’ access to doctors by improving Medicare reimbursement rates for primary care physicians.

» Continuing to reduce waste, fraud and abuse.

» Improving care by helping doctors coordinate care.

» Expanding home and community-based services to keep seniors in their homes, instead of in nursing homes.

— Ashley Schapitl is the press secretary for Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara.


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