February 04, 2011

Seniors First to Reap Benefits of New Health Law

For Immediate Release

June 11th, 2010        

 Seniors First to Reap Benefits of New Health Law


First Wave of Pennsylvania Seniors in the
“Donut Hole” to Receive $250 Rebate Checks


Starting in mid-June, seniors with Medicare prescription drug plans who have entered the “donut hole” coverage gap will receive a $250 rebate check in the mail from the government as part the health reform law’s early implementation.  Medicare enrollees pay 25 percent of their prescription drug costs until the total reaches $2,830 for the year.  Then they fall into the coverage gap known as the “donut hole” and have to pay a total of $4,550 in out-of-pocket prescription drug expenses before the plan resumes paying nearly 100 percent of drug costs. An estimated 4 million seniors will be in the donut hole this year and will become eligible to receive rebate checks.

The Department of Health and Human Services began mailing rebates today, three weeks ahead of schedule.  “When you’re paying out of pocket for your prescriptions, every bit of help counts,” said Jean Friday, President of the Pennsylvania Alliance for Retired Americans.

The $250 checks are the first of several provisions of the new law that will affect seniors. Throughout the rest of the year, seniors across the country will receive checks as they enter the coverage gap.  The law addresses the Part D coverage gap over the next 10 years, cutting the donut hole in half by 2011 and eliminating it entirely in 2020.  Over that period of time, seniors in the coverage gap will receive 50% off the cost of brand name drugs, while still counting the total cost toward their coverage gap requirement.

“The new law is good news for seniors,” said President Friday. “Not only do Medicare enrollees get help with the cost of prescription drugs, the law also eliminates deductibles and co-payments for preventive services like cancer screenings and provides a free annual check-up.  Millions of seniors will receive these free preventive services as a result of the new law.”

“The new health care law offers a multitude of benefits for seniors and early retirees,” President Friday continued.  “It stops overpayments to private Medicare Advantage insurance companies that have made enormous profits while causing millions to pay higher monthly premiums for traditional Medicare coverage. The law also protects nursing homes residents against elder abuse and neglect, and it prevents discrimination against early retirees by health insurance companies.  Perhaps most importantly, the reform law adds a decade to the solvency of the Medicare Trust Fund.  Seniors in Pennsylvania should feel more secure about their health care thanks to the new law.”

The Pennsylvania Alliance for Retired Americans has 300,000 members and 140 local affiliates.  To learn more, visit



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