"None of our senior citizens or disabled residents should end up
paying more for their medications than they did before the federal
Medicare prescription program took effect," Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich
said. "That's why we created Illinois Cares Rx. And now it's even
easier to sign up. People who have access to the Internet can now go
to enroll. Thousands have already joined, but for those who haven't
yet, I encourage you to do so before the federal government's May 15
The governor and the Department on Aging decided to make the
applications available online to make it easier and quicker to apply
for benefits and to accommodate the increasing number of older
people using the World Wide Web. Several recent studies show that
seniors are the fastest growing population of Internet users. In
fact, right here in Illinois, more than 341,257 older people filed
their taxes online with the state Department of Revenue this year.
Since the department began taking online applications for
existing program enrollees in February, more than 81,000 people have
taken advantage of the Internet to file their Illinois Cares Rx
applications and Circuit Breaker claims, compared with 75,282 filed
online in all of 2005.
Before logging on, Johnson suggests having the following
information available, in order to make the process a little
smoother: Social Security number, amount of property taxes paid in
2005, amount of rent paid in 2005 and a copy of 2005 tax returns.
Illinois Cares Rx provides a safety net for seniors and people
with disabilities when out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs go
up under the federal program. The new "wraparound coverage" provided
to Illinois seniors and people with disabilities through Illinois
Cares Rx will help cover the increased costs of the Medicare
program, including premium costs, co-insurance, coverage in the
"doughnut" and the deductible.
The remaining portion of the Circuit Breaker program offers
grants for tax relief and a $54 discount on license plates for
Illinois residents age 65 and older and those who are disabled. In
fiscal 2005, the Department on Aging distributed 269,388 tax grants
statewide, and it is projected that 274,156 will be given by the end
of the current fiscal year, June 30.
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The income eligibility levels for Illinois Cares Rx and the
Circuit Breaker program are as follows:
Total income must be
less than $21,218 for a single person.
Total income must be
less than $28,480 for a couple.
Total income must be
less than $35,740 for a family of three.
"Besides the application, other important program information is
also available on the department's website, including qualification
guidelines, frequently asked questions and grant status," Johnson
For those who don't have a computer at home, Johnson suggests
visiting a local senior center, public library, community center,
Area Agency on Aging or Senior Health Assistance Program site to
access the Web-based application. For more information or
assistance, please call the Illinois Department on Aging's Senior
HelpLine at 1 (800) 252-8966 or 1 (800) 506-1998 or visit
Since the beginning of his administration, Blagojevich has
implemented several programs designed to help Illinois' older
people. Through executive or legislative action the governor has:
beneficial prescription drug programs: Illinois Cares Rx, I-SaveRx
and Illinois Rx Buying Club.
Reduced the Illinois
Rx Buying Club enrollment fee by more than fifty percent to $10.
Created a new,
24-hour Elder Abuse Hotline.
charges and penalties for battering a person age 60 or over.
Created the Missing
and Endangered Senior Alert System.
operating hours of the Senior HelpLine to assist more seniors
and their families with Medicare inquiries and sign-up.
Increased funding for
the Grandparents Raising Grandchildren program.
November of every year as Alzheimer's Awareness Month.
homemaker hourly rate to ensure more older people are able to
Department on Aging to assist current nursing home residents who
wish to relocate safely back to community settings.
Cares Rx news release]