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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 6, 2006

Governor Blagojevich urges seniors to apply for Illinois’ Medicare wrap-around prescription drug coverage by December 8
Sign up will avoid interruption in coverage and lower drug costs

To find out more about Illinois Cares Rx, call Senior HelpLine at 1-800-252-8966 or visit www.illinoisbenefits.org
 
CHICAGO - Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today urged Illinois seniors to apply for Illinois Cares Rx by the end of the week to avoid a break in Illinois Cares Rx coverage.  Seniors and persons with disabilities must apply online at www.illinoisbenefits.org by December 8 to ensure coverage into 2007.  Illinois Cares Rx provides wrap-around prescription drug coverage to fill in the gaps created by Medicare Part D.
 
“We created Illinois Cares Rx to make sure that no senior or disabled person would be left behind by the federal Medicare Part D program.  But it’s also critical for our seniors to reapply as soon as possible to make sure they stay covered through next year,” said Gov. Blagojevich.
 
To avoid a break in Illinois Cares Rx coverage and to ensure coverage begins on January 1, 2007, seniors and persons with disabilities can fill out an application via the Internet by visiting their local Agency on Aging or senior center, or by calling Gov. Blagojevich’s Senior HelpLine at 1-800-252-8966.
 
Gov. Blagojevich also reminded seniors newly eligible for Medicare Part D to apply for the federal drug coverage by the December 31, 2006 enrollment deadline to avoid incurring a late enrollment penalty.  Most Medicare recipients have until this date to select a federal drug plan for the first time or change their existing plan. 
 
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 Health Plans, 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 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. 


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