Under the recently enacted health reform law, seniors who fall in the donut hole coverage gap in 2010 will receive this one-time tax-free $250 rebate check, he said.
These checks will continue to be mailed monthly over the next several months as seniors enter the coverage gap.
The checks are just the first benefit from health reform for seniors in the Medicare Prescription Drug program, the congressman said. Beginning in January 2011, seniors in the donut hole will receive a 50 percent discount on brand name drugs. By 2020, the donut hole will be completely closed.
“This is the first example of how the health care reform bill will strengthen Medicare and help seniors,” Hinojosa said.
The “donut hole” coverage gap is the period in the prescription drug benefit (once their prescription drug costs exceed $2,830) in which the beneficiary pays 100 percent of the cost of their drugs until they hit the catastrophic coverage threshold.
Last year, roughly 237,000 Medicare beneficiaries in Texas fell in the donut hole and received no extra help to defray the cost of their prescription drugs. Now, under health reform, help is on the way, Hinojosa said.
Under health care reform, the $250 checks are just the first step in reducing seniors’ prescription drug costs. Beginning next year, there is a 50 percent discount on prescription drugs in the donut hole, and by 2020, the donut hole is completely closed, he added.