Medicare beneficiaries stuck in donut hole get rebate checks

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Eligible Medicare beneficiaries who land in the Medicare Part D donut hole may be getting some relief in their mailboxes—a one-time, tax-free $250 rebate check issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).

The third round of the rebate checks has been issued to Medicare Part D beneficiaries who have already reached the prescription drug coverage gap this year. It is estimated that more than 25 percent of beneficiaries have reached the donut hole and ceased taking prescribed medications due to their high costs.

According to HHS, already more than 750,000 beneficiaries have received rebate checks this year and beginning in 2011, the terms of the Affordable Care Act will provide these beneficiaries with a 50 percent discount on brand name prescription drugs.

“High prescription drugs costs are a problem for many seniors and other Medicare enrollees with limited incomes,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Additionally, the PPACA will:

  • Provide free preventive tests and services to beneficiaries starting in 2011;
  • Decrease in Medicare coinsurance and save beneficiaries an estimated $200 per year in premiums by 2018; and
  • Extend the Medicare Trust Fund by 12 years.

“Seniors will see lower prescription drug costs when they are in the donut hole, access to preventive services and annual wellness visits without cost-sharing and higher quality care. And our efforts to crack down on fraud and waste are making beneficiaries safer and Medicare stronger financially, adding years to the Medicare trust funds,” said Don Berwick, CMS administrator.