- Congressman Tim Bishop
announced that 5,230 Medicare beneficiaries in the First Congressional District of New York have received $250 checks for prescription drug cost relief through the Affordable Care Act as of October 1. An additional 3,270 seniors are expected to receive the rebate checks before the end of the year for a total of nearly 8,500 in the District.
The one-time, tax-free rebates are the first step in permanently closing the Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage gap, known as the "donut hole," for seniors and disabled Americans. The amount of assistance provided to seniors in the First Congressional District is expected to total $2.1 million by the end of 2010.
"This is a down payment on the promise to eliminate the donut hole," Congressman Bishop said. "I have had longstanding concerns with the fact that seniors continue to pay for Part D coverage without collecting benefits. For Long Island seniors who are trying to make ends meet, this $250 goes a long way."
Bishop strongly supports efforts to protect America's most vulnerable citizens as the economy recovers. He is a cosponsor of the Seniors Protection Act (H.R. 5987), which will provide a one-time $250 Social Security COLA next year. Bishop wrote a letter urging leadership in the House of Representatives to schedule a vote on this legislation as quickly as possible when Congress reconvenes. The leadership responded by scheduling a vote in the House next month.
Bishop is also a cosponsor of the Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act of 2010 (H.R. 4752), which would authorize the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to directly negotiate drug prices with manufacturers on behalf of Medicare beneficiaries. He also supports legislation allowing safe drug importation from Canada.
This year, Medicare expects to distribute four million checks, which are sent automatically to beneficiaries once they reach the donut hole.
Next year, 'donut hole' seniors will receive a 50 percent discount on covered brand name medications. Every year, the amount Medicare beneficiaries pay in cost sharing in the 'donut hole' will decrease markedly until the coverage gap is closed completely in 2020.
In addition to savings on prescription drugs, Medicare recipients will soon receive other new benefits. Starting on January 1, Medicare beneficiaries will receive free preventive care services like mammograms and certain colon cancer tests and a free annual physical.