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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 13, 2006

Governor Blagojevich reminds Illinois seniors to take advantage of Illinois’ wrap around prescription drug coverage for Medicare Part D
To find out more about Illinois Cares Rx, call Governor Blagojevich’s Senior HelpLine at 1-800-252-8966

CHICAGO – As seniors around the country are inundated with marketing materials for federal drug programs in anticipation of Medicare’s “open enrollment season” which starts on November 15, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today reminded Illinois seniors that Illinois Cares Rx provides wrap-around prescription drug coverage as well as unbiased Medicare counseling to help seniors find the drug program that best suits their needs.   Illinois seniors and persons with disabilities who want to find out more about the Illinois Cares Rx program should call Governor Blagojevich’s Senior HelpLine at 1-800-252-8966.
 
“We knew that for so many seniors, the drug costs that fall out of their plan and into the donut hole could be devastating,” said Gov. Blagojevich.  “Through Illinois Cares Rx, we have filled the gaps in coverage created by the federal Medicare program, to make sure that no senior or person with disabilities in Illinois is left behind.”
 
At the Governor’s direction, program managers worked with prescription insurance providers to increase options for seniors, persons with disabilities, and persons with HIV/AIDS who are eligible for Medicare.  Illinois Cares Rx will also continue to provide prescription coverage to eligible persons who do not have Medicare.
 
Gov. Blagojevich today also announced that a statewide training tour for Illinois Cares Rx counselors will begin this week.  Volunteers already trained to assist Illinois Medicare recipients through the Senior Health Insurance Program (SHIP) can attend training tour sessions to learn about changes and updates to Medicare Part D that will help families determine which plan makes the most sense for them or their loved ones.  An Illinois Cares Rx Training Tour schedule appears at the bottom of this release.
 
Illinois resident Joel Sheffel applauded Illinois Cares Rx for helping him save money on prescription drugs last year.  “Last year, the federal prescription plans were confusing and they didn’t offer much for persons with disabilities.  None of the plans cover all the drugs I need but, with the help of volunteers trained by SHIP, I learned about Illinois Cares Rx.  That program covers the medicine I need.  That made a big difference in my budget, and now I work to help other people learn about the benefits available to them.”
 
Marketing by federal prescription drug plans began on October 1.  Medicare recipients will be able to change their federal drug plans during the “open enrollment season” which starts on November 15 and runs through December 31.  Between now and November 15, Illinois Medicare recipients are urged to take the time to review the plan they currently have based on changes in their health, in the plan and in other plans that might have benefits that better suit their needs and/or lower overall costs.  Illinois seniors and persons with disabilities can apply for Illinois Cares Rx at any point during the year. 
 
In 2007, the standard federal Medicare Part D prescription drug program will pay 75 percent of prescription drug costs up to $2,400 after a $265 deductible with an average $24.00 per month premium.  Beneficiaries are responsible for all of their costs between $2,400 and $5,451.25, with the plan paying 95 percent of costs beyond that top threshold.  The gap where a beneficiary has to pay all the drug costs between $2,400 and $5,451.25 is commonly referred to as the “donut hole.”  Illinois Cares Rx provides a safety net for seniors and persons with disabilities so that their out-of-pocket costs do not increase when they are in the donut hole. 
 
The Medicare Part D stand-alone prescription drug plans currently coordinating with Illinois Cares Rx are the AARP MedicareRx Plan and UnitedHealth Rx Basic (previously known as PacifiCare Saver Plan) from United Healthcare.  The Medicare Advantage companies currently coordinating with Illinois Cares Rx are Group Health Plan, Health Alliance, OSF, United Healthcare Medicare Complete and WellCare.  All of these plans will continue to coordinate benefits with the Illinois Cares Rx program in 2007.  In addition, two new plans have been added for 2007, WellCare Signature prescription drug plan and HealthSpring Medicare Advantage prescription drug plan.  The stand-alone prescription drug plans are available statewide.  Medicare Advantage prescription drug plans may be available only in certain areas.
 
In June 2005 Gov. Blagojevich signed the “No Senior or Person with Disability Left Behind” law, which created the Illinois Cares Rx program, the nation’s most comprehensive response to fill in the gaps created by the federal prescription drug program.  Illinois Cares Rx took effect January 1, 2006, in conjunction with the start of the new Medicare prescription coverage and has provided extra assistance to nearly 245,000 Illinois Cares Rx members and other Medicare beneficiaries. 
 
The following is a list of training tour locations.  Volunteers must register for training tour dates ahead of time.  For more information about SHIP trainings, please call your local SHIP office.  For more information about Area Agency on Aging trainings, please call your local AAA office.
 
Date
City
Location
Time
October 13
SHIP
Bloomington
Double Tree Hotel
10 Brickyard Drive
8:30 a.m. – 3:30 pm
October 16
AAA
Countryside
William Tell Holiday Inn
6201 Joliet Road
9:00 a.m. – 4 p.m.
October 17
SHIP
Carbondale
Southern Illinois Healthcare
1239 E. Main Street
Rooms B & D
9:00 a.m. – 12 p.m.
October 20
SHIP
Bloomington
YMCA of McLean County
1201 Hershey Road
9:00 a.m. – 12 p.m.
October 20
SHIP
Ottawa
Community Hospital of Ottawa
1100 E. Norris Drive, Room 1
10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
October 27
SHIP
Chicago
Chicago Marriot O’Hare
8535 West Higgins Road
8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
October 30
AAA
Springfield
Prairie Heart Institute
Dove Conference Center
St. John’s Hospital
619 East Mason
9:00 a.m. – 4 p.m.
 
November 1
AAA
Mt. Vernon
Holiday Inn
222 Potomac Boulevard
9:00 a.m. – 4 p.m.
November 13
AAA
Chicago
South Shore Cultural Center
7059 South Shore Drive
9:00 a.m. – 4 p.m.
November 14
AAA
Chicago
University of Illinois Chicago
Illinois Room, 3rd floor, Student Center
750 South Halsted
9:00 a.m. – 4 p.m.


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