Congressman John Garamendi

Representing the 3rd District of California
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80,000 California Seniors Receiving $250 Prescription Drug Rebate Checks Thanks to Health Care Reform, Garamendi Says

August 11, 2010
Press Release

Nationwide, 750,000 Seniors Receive Medicare Part D
Prescription Drug ‘Donut Hole’ Rebates

WALNUT CREEK, CA – Congressman John Garamendi (D-Walnut Creek, CA), a former two-term California Insurance Commissioner, is happy to report that the third round of prescription drug Medicare Part D 'donut hole' checks have gone out to nearly 80,000 California seniors. Under the Affordable Care Act, seniors whose prescription drug costs are so high that they fall in the 'donut hole' coverage gap in 2010 are receiving this one-time tax-free $250 rebate check.  Experts estimate that more than a quarter of seniors will hit the ‘donut hole’ this year. 

"When Democrats in Congress voted for health care reform earlier this year, we did so with the confidence that we were improving health care access for millions of seniors," Congressman Garamendi said. "These $250 rebates, along with the free preventative and primary care available to seniors next year, are early steps in the process. In a few years, we will completely close the donut hole and continue to improve coverage for our seniors."

These checks are being mailed out every few weeks, as more seniors hit the ‘donut hole.’ In June, more than 80,000 seniors received the rebate check; in July, more than 300,000 received the check; and now in early August, more than 375,000 are receiving it. In California, 9,985 seniors received the rebate in June; 31,615 seniors received it in July; and now 35,370 are receiving it in early August.

The checks are just the first benefit from health reform for seniors in the Medicare Prescription Drug program.  Beginning in January 2011, seniors in the donut hole will receive a 50% discount on brand name drugs.  By 2020, the donut hole will be completely closed.
 
Congressional Republicans created the donut hole – leaving thousands of seniors to choose between buying the prescriptions they need and putting food on the table – and now they refuse to help close it.

"Opportunistic Republican politicians have been trying to scare our seniors into opposing reforms that actually improve their health coverage," Garamendi added. "If the Republicans had their way, millions of seniors would have no hope of escaping the prescription drug donut hole; Medicare would be decimated; Social Security would be privatized; and free preventative care would be a pipe dream. Our seniors deserve better than what Congressional Republicans openly envision for America."

Medicare recipients don’t have to do anything to get the $250 check – once their drug costs for the year hit $2,830 the one-time check will be issued automatically, but seniors should be on the lookout for fraud.

Making prescription drugs more affordable for seniors is only one of the many benefits for seniors included in the Affordable Care Act.  Under the new law, other benefits for seniors include:

  • Beginning on January 1, 2011, provides that seniors will receive free preventive care services like mammograms and certain colon cancer tests and a free annual physical.
  • Strengthens Medicare by extending its solvency by an additional 12 years, from 2017 to 2029.
  • Includes Medicare efficiencies, so that experts estimate that seniors can expect to save on average almost $200 per year in premiums, by 2018, compared to what they would have paid without the new law.
  • Continues to reduce waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare.
  • Improves care by helping doctors communicate and coordinate.
  • Expands home and community-based services to keep seniors in their home, instead of in nursing homes.