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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 23, 2008

Governor Blagojevich reminds seniors and people with disabilities to sign-up for Illinois Cares Rx and Circuit Breaker to avoid break in coverage
Apply online at www.cbrx.il.gov or call the Senior Helpline at 1-800-252-8966 or Circuit Breaker at 1-800-624-2459 for information

SPRINGFIELD - Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today is reminding older adults and people with disabilities to apply now over the Internet for Illinois Cares Rx Basic (also known as the Circuit Breaker program) and for Illinois Cares Rx Plus (formerly SeniorCare) to get their benefits faster and to avoid any possible break in coverage. The Governor is encouraging individuals to use the online application (Form IL-1363) at www.cbrx.il.gov because it is the fastest way to get approved for the state’s prescription drug assistance program, and other Circuit Breaker benefits.   
 
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.  Individuals eligible for the Illinois Cares Rx program may also qualify 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, rent, or nursing home charges on their principle residence which 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 completing one application.  Seniors with questions may 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 forces them to pay more than they should have to for their prescriptions,” said Governor Blagojevich.  “I am proud that we 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 encourage seniors and people with disabilities to apply online to get these benefits as soon as possible to avoid any break in coverage next year.”
 
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 or rent paid in 2007, and a copy of 2007 federal tax returns or a list of all income received in 2007.  And for those seniors and disabled persons who don’t own a computer, ask to use a family member’s, visit a public library, community center, Area Agency on Aging or senior center. 
 
“Illinois Cares Rx bridges the significant gaps left by the federal Medicare Part D,” said Director Charles D. Johnson.  “I urge seniors and the disabled not to wait until the end of the year.  Log on now to apply for these prescription drug benefits and other benefits to avoid any break in coverage.”
 
The deadline for applications is December 31, 2008, but the Illinois Department on Aging (IDoA) is mailing yellow postcards to individuals, in the program who have not yet reapplied this year, reminding them to file their applications as soon as possible to receive their benefits and ensure that they do not experience a break in pharmaceutical coverage.
 
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. 
 
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.  Since the State introduced the online application system, the processing of the Circuit Breaker and Illinois Cares Rx applications has become much quicker.  A paper application takes anywhere from two to four months to process whereas an Internet-filed application will process within two to three weeks.   Last year 190,796 people filed online, compared with 159,000 in 2006.  
 
Illinois Cares Rx provides a safety net for seniors and the disabled when their out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs increase 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 or not you have Medicare:
 
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).
 
For more information, log on to www.cbrx.il.gov or for assistance please call the Senior HelpLine at
1-800-252-8966 (888-206-1327 TTY) or Circuit Breaker at 1-800-624-2459.


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