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More Seniors to Receive One-Time Donut Hole Rebate Checks

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius writes about the second round of checks going out to seniors who have fallen into the “donut hole” in Medicare prescription drug coverage.

If you or a loved one are one of the millions of seniors who fall into the “donut hole” every year, help is on the way thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

Most Americans know about the “donut hole” – the coverage gap in Medicare Part D where beneficiaries have to pay all their drug costs.  Seniors in the donut hole often must choose between their prescriptions and basic living expenses.

This year, as qualifying seniors enter the “donut hole,” Medicare will send them a tax-free, one-time rebate check for $250. 

The second round of checks was mailed this week, helping more than 300,000 seniors struggling to pay their prescription drug costs thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

The first round of checks went out in June, and 70 percent of those checks were cashed within a week of eligible Medicare recipients receiving them, so we know that folks really need some help.

These one-time rebate checks are the first step in closing the prescription drug coverage gap under the Affordable Care Act.   In 2011, the Affordable Care Act calls for Medicare beneficiaries in the donut hole to receive a 50 percent discount on their brand name medications.  Every year from 2012-2020, the Affordable Care Act will take another step to close the “donut hole.”

The rebate checks are just one new benefit for Medicare beneficiaries under the Affordable Care Act.  Today, I joined New Hampshire senior citizens in Manchester for a forum to discuss the rebate checks and other benefits of the Affordable Care Act as well as efforts to fight Medicare fraud.  You can find more information on these new benefits here at

Kathleen Sebelius is Secretary of Health and Human Services