Dems To Seniors: The Medicare Checks Are In The Mail
The Obama administration began mailing $250 checks Thursday to seniors who hit the Medicare prescription drug doughnut hole - a notorious gap in coverage - as part of the health overhaul, The Columbus Dispatch reports. "The tax-free, one-time rebate is the first tangible benefit of the new health-care law and the initial step toward phasing out the coverage gap for Medicare recipients with Part D drug coverage and who do not qualify for additional assistance" (Candisky, 6/11).
The Bridgeport Connecticut Post adds, "Doughnut hole" is the term used for a gap in prescription drug coverage under Medicare Part D. In most cases, the plan covers 75 percent of drug costs, up to $2,830. Once seniors hit that limit, they must pay all their own costs until total spending reaches $6,440 in a year. In Connecticut alone, about 47,700 seniors fall into that gap" (Cuba, 6/10).
The (Minneapolis) Star Tribune: "More checks will go out monthly as additional beneficiaries hit the $3,610 gap -- a total of about 4 million beneficiaries this year, including an estimated 64,000 in Minnesota. There is no doughnut hole for low-income people, whose prescription drugs are virtually free. They will not receive the $250 checks" (Wolfe, 6/10).
Reuters: Democrats are relaunching efforts to promote the overhaul to coincide with sending the checks. "Democrats released a 60-second television ad highlighting Republican vows to repeal the healthcare reform bill, which promises to be a flashpoint in the November election battle for control of Congress" (6/10).
The Hill: Also, as Medicare sends out the rebate checks, "Democratic leadership staff delivered to the media boxes of 'GOP Donut Holes' meant to suggest that the benefit would disappear if Republicans were in charge of Congress" (O'Brien, 6/10).
The (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal: The money won't go far towards helping people cover doughnut hole expenses, though. "The $250 will erase only about one-fourteenth of" of the $3,610 window. "'It's not enough,' said Bill Wiley of Louisville, 66," who has an income of only $1,600 a month and spends $450 a month on drugs (Howington, 6/9).
Politico: "No sooner than the administration dropped the first batch of $250 Medicare rebate checks in the mail, they have already run into their first snafu: a state government demanding that some seniors turn over the money." Vermont says some seniors aren't entitled to the payout because a state drug program already covers their out-of-pocket costs (Kliff, 6/10).
The (Montpellier, Vt.) Times Argus: Though federal lawmakers from Vermont said 9,000 people in the state would benefit from the checks, state officials countered that "roughly 2,800 Vermont seniors who already are covered under the state's own VPharm prescription program will not be eligible for the checks" (Sherman, 6/10).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.