Doughnut hole closing

Posted: Thursday, June 17, 2010

There is good news for about 5,000 Alaska seniors facing high prescription drug prices. Those falling into the "doughnut hole" will receive $250 rebate checks starting soon.

Alaska seniors should not have to choose between buying groceries, paying utility bills and filling prescriptions. The checks are being sent by a Medicare contractor. The federal HHS logo will appear on the envelope, along with a toll-free number for questions. Seniors in Medicare get only one rebate check and are not eligible if they already receive low-income drug assistance.

The doughnut hole dates back to 2006 Bush administration Medicare changes and is the gap between $2,830 and $6,440 of yearly drug costs. Seniors are stuck with 100 percent of those costs.

Beginning next year seniors in the doughnut hole will get a 50 percent discount on prescription drugs. Also because of health reform, the Medicare share of drug costs will increase until the doughnut hole is completely closed by 2020.

Anyone with further questions may call my Alaska or Washington, D.C., offices.

Sen. Mark Begich

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