Obama Sets Town Hall Meeting With Seniors To Tout Medicare Rebate ChecksThe New York Times Blog: President Barack Obama has scheduled a televised town hall meeting Tuesday in Wheaton, Md., "to trumpet one of the most popular provisions of his landmark health care bill: a $250 rebate to help Medicare beneficiaries pay for prescription drugs. ... An estimated 80,000 checks are scheduled to be sent in June, with others to follow on a rolling basis, to Medicare beneficiaries who enter the so-called 'doughnut hole' a gap in prescription drug coverage that requires them to pay out of pocket" (Stolberg, 6/3).
AARP Bulletin: "The $250 rebate program is the first benefit of the new health care law to take effect. It's an early effort by the Obama administration to convince consumers, especially Medicare beneficiaries, that help is on the way, though the main provisions of the law won't begin until 2014. The amount is small compared with most people's actual expenses in the gap, when they must currently pay full price after the total cost of their drugs since the beginning of the year reaches $2,830. But the rebate is intended to signal that the doughnut hole-the most unpopular aspect of the Part D drug benefit-will eventually be closed" (Barry, 6/2).
Wisconsin State Journal: "Seniors on Medicare Part D now pay 25 percent of the cost of their prescription drugs until the total bill reaches $2,830. At that point, enrollees must pay the full cost until their total out-of-pocket spending reaches $4,550. Catastrophic coverage then kicks in and enrollees pay 5 percent for the rest of the year. More than 3 million people fall into the doughnut hole each year, and millions more live in fear of reaching this expensive gap in coverage, according to the AARP, the nonprofit, nonpartisan group that advocates for people 50 and older. Starting in 2011, people who reach the doughnut hole will receive a 50 percent discount on brand-name drugs. By 2020, the doughnut hole will be eliminated entirely" (Derby, 6/3).
The (Fort Collins) Coloradoan: "With the checks starting to go out this month, there is concern that identity thieves will use the rebate as a motive to prey upon the elderly. Eileen Hendee, Aspen Club coordinator with Poudre Valley Health System, is the State Health Insurance Assistance Program, or SHIP, coordinator and said the main thing people need to be aware of is they don't need to do anything to receive the rebate. 'The biggest message is there is nothing they have to do to get this check,' Hendee said. 'It is all being taken care of. Our concern is people will call and say they need Social Security numbers or bank account information to get the check; there is nothing they need to do.' Hendee advises residents not to provide any personal information to anyone who contacts them about the rebate" (Young, 6/4). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.