Hinojosa: health reform provides prescription relief
Feb 02, 2011 | 394 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
WASHINGTON – Cong. Rubén Hinojosa recently announced that, to date, more than 3 million seniors and other Medicare beneficiaries have received ‘donut hole’ checks to begin to close their prescription drug coverage gap. Under the Affordable Care Act, seniors whose prescription drug costs were so high that they fell in the Medicare prescription drug ‘donut hole’ coverage gap in 2010 are receiving this one-time tax-free $250 rebate check—and the ‘donut hole’ will be completely closed by 2020.

These $250 checks will continue to be mailed out over the next several weeks – for those who fell into the ‘donut hole’ late in 2010.

A total of 193,301 Senior Texans and other Medicare beneficiaries in Texas have received a ‘donut hole’ check so far. (Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)

“This is a great example of how our Affordable Care Act is helping our Seniors,” said Rep. Hinojosa. Prescription drugs cost many seniors thousands of dollars a year and this check is a down payment that will help seniors who fall into the donut hole, which will eventually be closed altogether.”

The $250 checks were just the first of the benefits for seniors under the new health law – with many additional benefits having now taken effect on January 1. And yet on January 19, all House Republicans voted to repeal all of the patient protections and benefits that Congress enacted last year. This repeal, if it were to be successful, would deny Seniors all of these new benefits that are currently being implemented.

In addition to savings on prescription drugs, the health reform law provides new benefits to seniors when they visit their doctor starting this year:

• As of January 1, 2011, traditional Medicare no longer charges out-of-pocket costs for the “Welcome to Medicare” physical exam and, for the first time since the Medicare program was created in 1965, traditional Medicare now covers an annual wellness visit with a participating doctor, also at no cost.

• In addition to these annual wellness visits, seniors can now receive critical preventive services, including certain cancer screenings such as mammograms and colonoscopies, for free.

• Also as of January 1, 2011, the Affordable Care Act will provide qualifying doctors and other health care professionals providing primary care to people on Medicare a 10-percent bonus for primary care services. This will help ensure that those primary care providers can continue to be there for Medicare patients.

Under the new law, other benefits for Seniors include:

• Strengthens Medicare by extending its solvency by an additional 12 years, from 2017 to 2029.

• Includes Medicare efficiencies, so that experts estimate that the average savings for those enrolled in traditional Medicare will amount to more than $3,500 over the next 10 years.
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