"If you haven't applied for the Illinois Cares Rx drug coverage
program this year because your income was over the limit or you
didn't think you were eligible, I encourage you to apply," Johnson
said. "Seniors who have access to the Internet may file for Illinois
Cares Rx online so that you can get your benefits faster. And if you
don't own a computer, I recommend either reaching out to family
members who do own computers, visit your local Area Agency on Aging
or senior centers, or contact a SHIP volunteer in your community.
And remember, if you have any questions, you can always call the
Illinois Department on Aging's Senior HelpLine at 1-800-252-8966."
To assist those who may need extra help to apply, the Illinois
Department of Insurance's Senior Health Insurance Program is
offering free, one-on-one counseling services in communities across
the state to assist Medicare-eligible individuals during the open
enrollment period. For a list of SHIP volunteers, visit the
SHIP Web site or call toll-free at 1-800-548-9034.
"The cost of prescription drugs has escalated to the point of
being unaffordable for many of the people who rely on them most,
especially seniors and people with disabilities," said Healthcare
and Family Services Director Barry S. Maram. "No one should have to
go without the medications that keep them healthy, which is why I
strongly encourage seniors and people with disabilities to see
whether they qualify for prescription drug assistance though
Illinois Cares Rx."
In addition to reminding seniors and people with disabilities to
reapply now to avoid a break in coverage, the state is also noting
changes that will benefit more enrollees.
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A new law will make it easier for some to get into the program. Last
month, Gov. Pat Quinn signed
House Bill 366 into law to expand the Circuit Breaker program,
which includes the Illinois Cares Rx program, property tax relief
grant and a license plate discount. The new law raises the income
eligibility. By allowing higher incomes, more seniors and people
with disabilities will be eligible to receive the state's
prescription drug assistance. The new limits, effective on Jan. 1,
2010, will be:
$22,218) for a household size of one.
$29,480) for a household size of two.
$45,657 (currently $36,740) for a
household size of three or more.
More good news is that the medications available to Illinois
Cares Rx enrollees also have been expanded.
In 2008, 235,236 applied online, compared with 158,888 in 2007
and 75,288 in 2006, the first year the Illinois Department on Aging
had made the Illinois Cares Rx application available online. (Each
year listed accounts for the previous claim year.)
Before logging on to the Internet to apply, individuals should
have the following information available: Social Security number(s),
amount of property taxes paid in 2008, amount of rent paid in 2008
and a copy of 2008 federal tax returns.
Seniors with questions about Illinois Cares Rx may check at
www.cbrx.il.gov or call the
Illinois Department on Aging's Senior HelpLine at 1-800-252-8966.
Department on Aging file received from
Illinois Office of
Communication and Information]