Second Round Of Checks To Close Medicare Doughnut Hole Sent OutThe New York Times Prescriptions Blog: "The Obama administration is sending $250 checks to more than 300,000 older Americans who paid higher drug costs in the Medicare coverage gap known as the 'doughnut hole,' officials announced Thursday. The one-time, tax-free checks are the first tangible benefit of the health care package that became law this year." The amount of the checks and "the eventual closing of the coverage gap were negotiated between Congress and the pharmaceutical industry in a move widely seen as politically appealing in an election year." And earlier batch of about 80,000 checks was mailed in June "to people who fell in the coverage gap in the first three months of the year. About 70 percent were cashed within a week, the Department of Health and Human Services said in a news release. The second round of checks is going to people who entered the coverage gap between April and June and were not eligible for the low-income subsidies" (Wilson, 7/8).
The (Manchester, N.H.) Union Leader: Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius "said that as part of the newly enacted health care bill, seniors who this year fall into Medicare's prescription drug gap ... will receive a $250 check to help cover costs. Next year, seniors who have reached the coverage gap will get a 50 percent discount on prescription drugs" (Lamontagne Hall, 7/9).
The Hill: "The doughnut hole has been controversial since a GOP-led Congress created Medicare's prescription drug benefit, called Part D, in 2003. Under the program, the government pays 75 percent of seniors' drug costs up to $2,830, when patients must begin paying full price. After total drug costs hit $6,440, the government picks up 95 percent of the tab, meaning the doughnut hole is $3,610" (Lillis, 7/8). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.