first_imgUS Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today announced that 6,244 Medicare beneficiaries in Vermont, and three million people nationwide, have received prescription drug cost relief through the Affordable Care Act. To date, three million eligible beneficiaries who fell into the drug coverage gap known as the ‘donut hole’ during 2010 have been mailed a one-time, tax-free $250 rebate check.‘For too long, many seniors and people with disabilities have been forced to make impossible choices between paying for needed prescription medication and necessities like food and rent,’ said Secretary Sebelius. ‘The Affordable Care Act offers long overdue relief by lowering prescription drug costs each year until the donut hole is closed.’Eligible beneficiaries who fell into the coverage gap during 2010 are continuing to automatically receive rebate checks. These checks are only the first step in how the Affordable Care Act will reduce prescription drug costs for beneficiaries in the donut hole each year until it is closed in 2020. Starting this year, eligible beneficiaries in the coverage gap will receive a 50-percent discount on covered brand name medications while in the donut hole. In addition, in 2011 Medicare will begin paying 7-percent of the price for generic drugs during the coverage gap.Also today, Secretary Sebelius released a new video message on the new benefits the Affordable Care Act provides in 2011 for people on Medicare. You can watch the video message here.The closing of the donut hole is just one of the ways seniors benefit from the Affordable Care Act. In addition to savings on prescription drugs, the law provides new benefits to Medicare beneficiaries when they visit their doctor starting this year:As of January 1, 2011, Original Medicare no longer charges out-of-pocket costs for the ‘Welcome to Medicare’ physical exam and, for the first time since the Medicare program was created in 1965, Original Medicare now covers an annual wellness visit with a participating doctor, also at no cost.In addition to these annual wellness visits, most people with Medicare can now receive critical preventive services, including certain cancer screenings such as mammograms and colonoscopies, for free.Also this year, the Affordable Care Act will provide qualifying doctors and other health care professionals providing primary care to people on Medicare a 10-percent bonus for primary care services. This will help ensure that those primary care providers can continue to be there for Medicare patients.People with Medicare can learn more about these new benefits, search for participating doctors in their area, and find other helpful information by contacting a trained customer service representative toll-free at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) or visiting is external)Additionally, the Affordable Care Act makes Medicare stronger and more secure for all beneficiaries. These provisions under the new law increase benefits to beneficiaries and help to extend the life of the Medicare Trust Fund by 12 years.An analysis issued by the Department of Health and Human Services estimates that under the Affordable Care Act, average savings for those enrolled in traditional Medicare will amount to more than $3,500 over the next 10 years. Savings will be even higher ‘ as much as $12,300 over the next 10 years ‘ for seniors and people with disabilities who have high prescription drug costs. Total savings per beneficiary enrolled in traditional Medicare are estimated to be $86 in 2011, rising to $649 in 2020. For a beneficiary in the donut hole, estimated total savings increase from $553 in 2011 to $2,217 in 2020.The Affordable Care Act establishes a new Innovation Center that will research, develop, test, and expand innovative payment and delivery arrangements to improve the quality and reduce the cost of care provided to patient with Medicare, Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) coverage. Innovations that are found to work can be rapidly expanded and applied more broadly’helping to transform the health care system into one that provides better care at lower cost.· The Affordable Care Act contains important new tools to help crack down on criminals seeking to scam seniors and steal taxpayer dollars. The law strengthens the screenings for health care providers who want to participate in Medicare, Medicaid, or CHIP, enables enforcement officials to see health care claims data from around the country in a searchable database, and strengthens the penalties for criminal wrongdoing. The reduction in waste, fraud, and abuse returns savings to the Medicare Trust Fund to strengthen the program into the future. Seniors are encouraged to contact 1-800-MEDICARE to report any solicitations of personal information or suspected fraud, waste, or abuse, or go to is external).For more information on how the Affordable Care Act benefits seniors, visit is external). ###last_img read more

first_img Trail Blazers, Grizzlies advance to NBA play-in game; Suns, Spurs see playoff dreams dashed Lakers, Clippers schedules set for first round of NBA playoffs 100 million reasons why Inglewood approved a development pact for a new LA Clippers arena Kawhi Leonard’s playmaking is more than a passing fancy for Clippers Clippers goal in restart against Lakers Thursday is to rebuild ‘winning habits’ How athletes protesting the national anthem has evolved over 17 years Pelinka is now being condemned as untrustworthy and set upon by people he angered as an agent in a way no sitting GM has ever been.“I just don’t see how they do anything going forward with Rob in place,” an unnamed agent told The Los Angeles Times’ Brad Turner. “No one trusts him.”Meanwhile, Ballmer and his people were building in the infrastructure the Lakers didn’t have, starting with the decision to strip Rivers of personnel duties, replacing him upstairs with assistant coach Lawrence Frank.In a major upset, Ballmer passed up the chance to scapegoat his highly-paid coach last spring, retaining Doc, who then had one of the best seasons of his coaching career … while hiring Jerry West as a consultant after the Lakers failed to offer the hoped-for invitation to return home … building out the front office with highly-regarded young executives like Michael Winger and Trent Redden, whom opposing teams have asked permission to contact for jobs atop their organizations.The Lakers continue to live in a past in which the Clippers exist as figures of scorn. In documents unearthed in a court fight over the proposed arena in Inglewood, Jeanie Buss, herself, was discovered asking, “Didn’t Ballz see what we did to my brother?”In fact, the Lakers have minimized their chance at bringing in elite help this summer while the Clippers have maximized theirs.Not that that means the Clippers are close to pulling even with the Lakers, yet.Related Articles Trail Blazers beat Grizzlies in play-in, earn first-round series with the Lakers It was fun while it lasted … for one team in town, anyway.In an irony we should be getting used to by now, it was the Clippers who had all the fun in the 2018-19 season, likely as it is to end Wednesday against the Warriors, whom few ever doubted were massively superior.The now-defunct Lakers’ experience ceased being fun months ago, becoming disappointing and finally getting a lot worse than that.Try shocked, dismayed and overwhelmed after Magic Johnson bolted, showing how leaderless they had been … and continue to be with no Lakers official having appeared in public in 14 days since … with owner Jeanie Buss yet to even confirm what everyone knows, that Rob Pelinka is remaining to run the basketball operation.center_img MORNING WRAP: Everything you need to know about Lakers-Clippers opener; How Angels blew leads and who was the Dodgers’ 13-inning hero? Lakers practice early hoping to answer all questions “It very definitely can change but we have to create our own fans, OK?” says West, the Laker-turned-Clipper.“To me, I like competition. My whole life has been about competition.“Do I feel like we can compete with them? Absolutely, I do. … It’s like David versus Goliath. That’s what makes it fun.”If it’s still a Lakers town, we don’t have to imagine what it would look like if things began to turn around.We just witnessed it. Let the teams keep going the way they are and see what happens.Mark Heisler has written an NBA column since 1991 and was honored with the Naismith Hall of Fame’s Curt Gowdy Award in 2006. He writes a weekly NBA column for the Southern California News Group that regularly appears in Sunday print editions. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Head-to-head, the Clippers went 23-5.The Lakers had been local darlings far beyond the Dodgers, Rams, Raiders, Kings, Ducks, et al. since Jerry Buss in 1979 bought the team which would win 10 titles and become the glitzy, movie-star-spangled embodiment of all that Southern California fans see themselves as.The Clippers were orphans, dragged into local eclipse from San Diego in 1984 at the behest of no one except owner Donald Sterling, a laughingstock until making racist comments that got him banned for life in 2014.New owner Steve Ballmer’s six seasons coincide with the Clippers’ zenith but despite averaging more than 50 wins and playing to more than 90 percent of capacity in Staples Center – even getting $1,000 more than the Lakers per courtside seat for much of that time – support has never run deep.Clippers TV ratings remained a fraction of Lakers ratings, even at the Lakers’ low point. The commonly-seen sight of Clippers fans arriving in groups suggests many tickets are parceled off at discounts.Coach Doc Rivers tacitly conceded their fragile support before Game 3, noting that opposing teams’ fans often show up at Staples in numbers that erase his team’s home-court advantage, a day-and-night difference from his days in gung-ho Boston.“I have found being here – it’s amazing coming from Boston to here, because of that,” Rivers said.“My guess, honestly, the fact that we lost Game 1 (in Oakland) by what we lost, there were probably a lot of tickets available (in Staples) and the Golden State fans probably swiped them, got ’em all. So my guess is there are gonna be a lot of Golden State fans.“What I’ve learned in those situations here, if you play well, you hear the Clipper fans and they can drown them (opposing teams fans) out. If you don’t, then that’s up to us.”Nevertheless, the Clippers have made important changes, even as their nucleus unraveled with Chris Paul’s decision to leave leading to the trade of Blake Griffin and the departure of DeAndre Jordan in free agency.The Lakers, meanwhile, have become the local laughingstock, or would be if their fans were laughing.The Laker changeover came two seasons ago when Jeanie Buss fired her brother – no loss – but axed veteran GM Mitch Kupchak, too, who had been obliged to work closely with Jim.Jeanie then brought in Magic, who proved to be uninterested in the day-to-day operation and temperamentally unsuited to taking the heat. Pelinka arrived because Kobe Bryant suggested him while turning down an offer to join the front office.Related Articles AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersIf a gap remains between the local teams, it’s not the vast chasm it was seven seasons ago before the Clippers became the best team in town.Since then it’s been all Clippers and it hasn’t been close.The Clippers have finished ahead of the Lakers in all seven seasons.RELATED: Lakers sticking with family, but Kobe isn’t riding to the rescueOverall, the Clippers went 373-201 to the Lakers’ 198-376, finishing 75 games ahead, an average of more than 10 per season. Morning Wrap: Full coverage from Lakers-Clippers thriller; Angels, Dodgers going in different directions; Whicker pays tribute to legendary Mike Gillespie last_img read more