Low-income seniors to receive assistance with prescription drug costs

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Millions of Medicare beneficiaries with limited income will soon receive some "Extra Help" when it comes to the cost of Part D prescription drugs, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced Friday.

The "Extra Help" program subsidizes the cost of prescription drugs for low-income Medicare beneficiaries. Income and resource calculation changes made under the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act (MIPPA) of 2008 mean seniors with an annual income of less than $16,245 a year (or $21,855 for married couples) could be eligible to pay $2.50 for generic drugs and $6.30 for brand name drugs under the program. For example, life insurance policies and family assistance are no longer counted as resources or income, according to CMS.

It is estimated that 1.8 million seniors are eligible but not yet enrolled in the "Extra Help" program, according to CMS. These new eligibilities coincide with a $250 check for seniors who fall into the Medicare Part D coverage gap that is being mailed out this week. Beneficiaries who qualify for Medicare "Extra Help" do not fall into that gap. More information is available at this Social Security site