If you are a caregiver to one of the nearly 13% of Illinois residents who are 65 years of age or older, you may be a bit more stressed since July 1, 2012. That is the date when a program to help qualified seniors to better afford their prescription drugs, Illinois Cares Rx, was terminated. Not all seniors will be affected, but it will impact the most vulnerable among the seniors, those who are at the lowest incomes.
The termination of Illinois Cares Rx means that the program will no longer help pay for prescription drugs and Medicare Part D premiums. If you have not already done so, it is important that you or the senior for whom you are a caregiver contact their Medicare Part D prescription drug plan to find out what their premium and prescription drug costs will be beginning July 1, 2012. That is because as of July Medicare beneficiaries are responsible for their Part D Plan premiums and any higher co-pays or deductibles.
The Illinois Cares Rx program had been part of a more comprehensive aid package that included the “Circuit Breaker” benefits as well. You may recall that Circuit Breaker included a discount for auto licenses or a free transit card. These opportunities are still available for those qualified individuals who complete an Illinois form IL-1363. Qualifying for the benefit requires an individual be 65 years of age or older (or dependents upon a 65+ year old), reside in Illinois and meet the income requirements. Applications for “Circuit Breaker” must be received by the State no later than December 31, 2012. There may have been some confusion about this program, because simply being 65 years of age or older had for a time qualified a person to receive a public transportation transit card at no charge. This also has been made even a bit more unclear, because Circuit Breaker at least in name has been discontinued, but the free ride or license discount programs are still available. These will be reviewed on a year by year basis.
If you have questions or would like to locate an Illinois Senior Health Assistance Program (SHAP) site near you for assistance, contact the Senior HelpLine at 800-252-8966. For answers on-line, use this link to get answers to fequently asked questions: http://www.cbrx.il.gov/.
Charlotte Bishop is a Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Case Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago. Please email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more about Our Story and Charlotte’s mission.