Background: President Bush signed the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 (P.L. 108-173) on December 8, 2003. The Act’s prescription drug benefit begins January 1, 2006. Until then, beneficiaries will be offered drug discount cards, which are scheduled to become available on June 1, 2004.
Basics: Drug discount cards will be offered by Medicare-endorsed private companies for an annual fee of up to $30. Estimated savings range between 10-15% of the retail price. Those with incomes up to $12,569 for an individual or $16,862 for a couple in 2004 will get the cards for free and receive a $600 credit embedded in the card, but they will still have co-pays of 5-10 percent per prescription. In Illinois, Senior Care recipients are not eligible for the low-income subsidies, including the $600 credit, since they already have prescription drug coverage.