Durbin: 150,000 Illinois Seniors Will Soon Receive Federal Rebate to Help Pay for Costly Medications

[CHICAGO, IL] – Illinois seniors who have fallen into the Medicare Part D coverage gap known as the “donut hole” will soon receive $250 rebate checks from the federal government, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) told seniors gathered at the Northwest side Copernicus Center today. The rebate checks are one of the immediate benefits of the new health care reform law and by the end of the year will be sent to roughly 150,000 Illinoisans in the donut hole to help pay for their medications.

As a result of the health care law, Illinois seniors who hit the donut hole this year will automatically be mailed a one-time $250 rebate check to help defray the cost of prescription drugs. The first of these checks were sent out on June 10. The remainder will be mailed monthly throughout the year as new beneficiaries hit the donut hole. Medicare beneficiaries in Illinois who hit the gap are also eligible for the Illinois Cares Rx program, which pays 80 percent of the cost of prescription drugs.

“We’re now starting to see tangible benefits from the groundbreaking healthcare reform bill we passed earlier this year. As a result of the new law, seniors who often live on a fixed income will be better able to afford their medications and, as a result, they’ll be healthier,” Durbin said.

Durbin cited evidence that suggests that the donut hole coverage gap reduces seniors' use of drugs prescribed by their doctors by an average of 14 percent, posing a real health threat to seniors who need, but simply cannot afford, essential medications.

The new healthcare law continues to provide additional discounts for seniors on Medicare in the years ahead. In 2011, the new law will cut the donut hole in half and give seniors a 50% discount on brand-name drugs while in the donut hole. By 2020, the donut hole will be closed completely and seniors will have the same 75% discounts on brand-name and generic drugs in the donut hole as they have in the rest of the Part D program. A typical senior who hits the donut hole will save more than $700 in 2011, and upwards of $3,000 by 2020, because of this law, Durbin said.