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Doughnut hole rebate checks are in the mail

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By Congressman Tom Perriello

Last week, in a rare showing of bipartisanship in Washington, the House of Representatives joined forces to pass common-sense reforms related to mortgages and housing loans. The Federal Housing Administration Reform Act, which sailed through the House nearly unanimously, will encourage responsible homeownership for those who can afford it, while rooting out and cracking down on lenders who make risky or fraudulent loans. These simple reforms will make sure that mortgage companies can no longer use tricks and traps in making risky loans and that those buying homes can afford the mortgages they take out.

Last week I also hosted a special job workshop in Charlottesville that focused on ways to help people lift themselves into the middle class through employment. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, or stimulus bill, made significant investments in programs that offer job training and employment opportunities to residents of low-income housing communities. We brought together local leaders, business owners, affordable housing advocates, and potential workers to explore ways to fully utilize these funds. The program has been chronically underutilized for decades, but in these extraordinary times we are shining a new light on it because anything that promotes private-sector job creation is worth exploring.

Thousands of Virginia seniors are getting some good news in the mail this week as Medicare starts sending rebate checks to those who have fallen into the prescription coverage “doughnut hole.” The Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit covers prescription costs up to about $2,400, and then again over about $6,000, but any costs in between must be paid out of pocket.

Because of the health care reform package passed by Congress earlier this year, about 91,000 Virginia seniors who fell into the “doughnut hole” last year will now receive a rebate check automatically once they hit their coverage limits. Starting next year, they will receive 50% off name brand and 75% off generic drugs. This is the first step in fulfilling our obligations to seniors and is part of the health care reform plan to completely eliminate the “doughnut hole.”

These rebate checks will be sent to Medicare recipients automatically if they hit the coverage limits. Absolutely no paperwork or action is required. Please keep that in mind if you think you may be eligible for a rebate, as we are seeing some scam artists trying to exploit seniors expecting a rebate check. If anyone offers to help you get your rebate, fill out forms, or asks for any personal information, break off the contact and notify the Attorney General of Virginia or local law enforcement.

Finally, I’d like to invite all of you to a free telephone town hall meeting on Thursday, June 17 from 6:50-7:50 pm. This is my eighth telephone town hall, and I’m very pleased to have U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack joining me for the call as we discuss issues of importance to rural communities. Since Sec. Vilsack visited us in Pittsylvania County last summer, he’s take a strong interest in our area and the economic opportunities that are available thanks to our location, our farming heritage, and our high-quality workforce.

This is a great chance for folks from across the 5th District, but especially those in our rural communities, to let Secretary Vilsack and me know how we can better promote economic recovery and job opportunities in your communities. If you want to participate, please dial toll-free (877) 229-8493 and enter access code 14581#. You can call in anytime during the hour to listen, ask a question, or share a concern.

Please feel free to contact me to share your concerns and ideas. You may call 1-888-4-TOM4US (1-888-486-6487); write to 1520 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515; or visit www.perriello.house.gov to sign up for my weekly e-newsletter.