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More rebate checks go out to Part D beneficiaries

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Aug. 23, 2010

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A third round of tax-free $250 rebate checks has been mailed to eligible Medicare Part D beneficiaries whose drug costs had built up to a point that they hit the drug coverage gap known as the "doughnut hole."

More than a quarter of Medicare drug plan enrollees hit the doughnut hole, causing many to stop following their drug regimens, according to the Dept. of Health and Human Services. Officials said the rebate checks will help seniors avoid having to make difficult decisions about their expenses.

"Often, seniors reach the doughnut hole because they are on costly medications to help them manage their chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure or diabetes," Kathy Greenlee, HHS assistant secretary for aging, said in an Aug. 10 statement. "These checks will help America's seniors afford the medications they need to manage those illnesses, keeping them healthy and improving their quality of life."

The rebate checks are the first step in a phasing out of the Part D coverage gap. In 2011, beneficiaries who hit the gap will receive a 50% discount on their brand-name medications, officials said.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2010/08/23/gvbf0823.htm.

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