Rep. Maloney Applauds Release of Third Round of $250 Checks for Seniors Caught in “Donut Hole”
New York, NY – Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan, Queens) today hailed the release this week of the third round of tax-free $250 checks from the federal government to seniors who are caught in the dreaded “donut hole” contained in the Medicare Prescription Drug program. The one-time $250 payments are being mailed out every few weeks, as more and more seniors hit the donut hole.
Since June, more than 63,000 New York seniors have been mailed checks, including 30,800 in the latest round mailed on August 10th. The checks are one of the many benefits for seniors included in the health care reform law approved by Congress and signed by President Obama. Starting next year, the health care reform law will give those caught in the donut hole a 50% discount on brand-name prescription drugs; in 2020, the new law will close the donut hole entirely.
The Medicare Prescription Drug benefit -signed into law in 2003 by former President George W. Bush- included a “donut hole” in which seniors lose drug coverage once they have used $2,830 worth of drugs, and do not regain coverage until they hit the benefit’s catastrophic coverage threshold.
“The ‘donut hole’ was anything but sweet for the 246,000 New Yorkers who were caught in the Medicare prescription drug plan’s coverage gap last year,” said Rep. Maloney.
“Thankfully, the health reform package that I was proud to support will give $250 checks this year to seniors in the donut hole and a 50% discount on brand-name prescription drugs next year. And in 2020, the donut hole will be plugged forever.”
Seniors do not need to take any special action to receive their $250 check; Medicare will automatically send checks to seniors once they enter the donut hole.
In addition to closing the donut hole, the health reform law will have many other benefits for seniors, including:
* Free preventive care services under Medicare, beginning in 2011;
* Extending the solvency of Medicare by an additional 12 years, from 2017 to 2029;
* Improving seniors’ access to doctors;
* Reduce waste, fraud and abuse;
* Improving care by helping doctors communicate and coordinate; and
* Expanding home and community-based services to keep seniors in their home, instead of in nursing homes.