Sunday, April 22 , 2018, 5:51 pm | Fair 68º


Capps Announces New Round of ‘Donut Hole’ Rebates

Medicare has mailed a third set of $250 checks to eligible seniors

Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, announced Wednesday that Medicare has mailed seniors the third round of $250 “donut hole” rebate checks to eligible seniors.

Nationwide, more than 750,000 Medicare beneficiaries have already received checks this year, and more checks will be sent in the coming months to additional seniors who enter the coverage gap.

Under the health-care reform law enacted this year, seniors who fall in the “donut hole” 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.

“I’m proud to announce that the donut hole rebate program is continuing on schedule and that this next round of relief is reaching deserving seniors,” Capps said. “Many seniors are on fixed incomes, but face chronic illnesses that require costly prescription drug management. These rebate checks are only the beginning of our short road to 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 donut hole will be 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. Seniors are encouraged to call 1.800.MEDICARE to report any solicitations of personal information, or click here to learn about how the Affordable Care Act helps to protect seniors from scams and safeguard taxpayer dollars.

In addition to closing the donut hole, the Affordable Care Act 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.

» Reducing waste, fraud and abuse.

» Incentives for doctors to better 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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