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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 6, 2008

Gov. Blagojevich urges seniors and disabled persons to sign-up for Illinois Cares Rx and Circuit Breaker online now to avoid break in coverage
Apply online at www.cbrx.il.gov for faster processing or call the Senior Helpline at 1-800-252-8966 or Circuit Breaker at 1-800-624-2459 for more information

CHICAGO - Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today is urging older adults and people with disabilities to apply for Illinois Cares Rx and Circuit Breaker benefits over the Internet now to get their benefits faster and to avoid any possible break in coverage next year.  The Governor is encouraging individuals to use the online application at www.cbrx.il.gov because it is the fastest way to get approved for the state’s prescription drug assistance program, Circuit Breaker property tax grants and $54.00 license plate discount. 
 
The state’s pharmaceutical assistance program, Illinois Cares Rx, provides wrap-around prescription drug coverage to fill in the gaps created by Medicare Part D and offers drug coverage for people who do not have Medicare.  Seniors with questions about Illinois Cares Rx or Circuit Breaker can call the Senior HelpLine at 1-800-252-8966 or Circuit Breaker at 1-800-624-2459. 
 
“The federal Medicare Part D program leaves significant gaps in coverage for our seniors and can force them to pay more for their prescriptions than they should,” said Governor Blagojevich.  “I am proud that we in Illinois have the Illinois Cares Rx program to help our seniors get the prescription drugs and benefits that they are entitled to at a low cost.  I want to encourage seniors and the disabled to go online now and apply to get these best-in-the-nation prescription drug benefits and the Circuit Breaker benefits as soon as possible, and to avoid any break in coverage next year.”
 
Individuals eligible for the Illinois Cares Rx program may also be eligible for additional benefits from the State’s Circuit Breaker program.  The Circuit Breaker program may provide a property tax relief grant for individuals who pay property tax on their residence or rent or nursing home charges on a residence that is subject to property tax.  In addition, the program provides an annual $54.00 discount on the license plate fee for one vehicle.  These benefits, including Illinois Cares Rx, can be accessed by applying on one application.
 
In 2006, Gov. Blagojevich and the Illinois Department on Aging (IDoA) made the Illinois Cares Rx and Circuit Breaker application available online to make it easier and quicker to apply for benefits and to accommodate the increasing number of older persons accessing the World Wide Web.  Studies show that seniors are the fastest growing population of Internet users.  Last year the number of Circuit Breaker and Illinois Cares Rx Internet applications more than doubled when 190,796 people took advantage of the Internet to file their Illinois Cares Rx and Circuit Breaker application compared to 75,288 filed online in all of 2005.
 
Before logging on to the Internet, IDoA Director Charles D. Johnson suggests individuals should have the following information available: Social Security number(s), amount of property taxes paid in 2007, amount of rent paid in 2007, and a copy of 2007 federal tax returns or a list of all income received in 2007. 
 
“I want to encourage seniors and the disabled to file now - don’t wait to the end of the year.  For those seniors and disabled persons who don’t own a computer, reach out to family members who do and use theirs or visit your local Area Agency on Aging or senior center,” said Director Charles D. Johnson. 
 
IDoA has sent booklets to those who submitted Illinois Cares Rx and Circuit Breaker applications in the mail last year.  Those who filed an application for Circuit Breaker and Illinois Cares Rx via the Internet should have received yellow postcards in the mail as a reminder to re-apply online.
 
Illinois Cares Rx provides a safety net for seniors and the disabled when their out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs go up under Medicare Part D.  People with Medicare applying for Illinois Cares Rx must also apply for Medicare’s Extra Help for drug coverage through the Social Security Administration (SSA).  Apply for Extra Help by calling the SSA toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 or at www.ssa.gov online.
 
Those eligible for Illinois Cares Rx fall into one of the following groups whether you have Medicare or not:
 
1. Illinois Cares Rx Plus
Who can enroll?  If you are 65 years of age or older and have an annual income of no more than $23,225; or a couple with an annual income of no more than $31,264; and a citizen or qualified non-citizen.
What’s covered?  Almost all prescription drugs are covered.
 
 
2. Illinois Cares Rx Basic 
Who can enroll? Seniors or persons with disabilities with income less than $24,808 for a single person, $32,916 for a couple and $41,023 for a three person household.
What’s covered?  Prescription drugs for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, arthritis, cancer, diabetes, glaucoma, cardiovascular disease, lung disease and smoking-related illnesses, osteoporosis, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and HIV/AIDS (if you have Medicare).
 
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 provided extra assistance in 2007 to over 210,000 Illinois Cares Rx members. 
 
For those who don’t have a computer at home, seniors can visit a local senior center, public library, community center, Area Agency on Aging or Senior Health Assistance Program (SHAP) site to access the web based application.  For more information or assistance, please call the Senior HelpLine at 1-800-252-8966 (888-206-1327 TTY) or Circuit Breaker at 1-800-624-2459 or visit www.cbrx.il.gov.


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