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Do You Qualify for Medicare's Extra Help Program?

Kimberly Yellow Robe
12/7/11

Medicare is an important benefit—if you have this card, you will want to consider participating in the Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Program.

In 2003, Congress passed the Medicare Modernization Act, or MMA. Its major provision is the prescription drug plan. MMA provides for extra help with prescription drug costs, in the way of subsidies to low income Medicare beneficiaries.

The subsidies will help Indian Health Service, Tribal and Urban Health facilities pay the costs of providing prescription drugs for their clients. When funds are reimbursed for Medicare prescription drug beneficiaries, there will be more funds available for these healthcare facilities to provide other vital services.

Every individual who qualifies represents an important potential benefit to our tribal communities. Social security is responsible for implementing that benefit; we call it “extra help." Many Medicare beneficiaries won’t have to file for assistance because they’ll automatically get it based on benefits they receive.

Medicare beneficiaries can qualify for Extra Help with their Medicare Prescription drug plan costs. Extra Help’s estimated to be worth about $4,000 per year. To qualify for the extra help, a person must be receiving Medicare, have limited resources and income, and reside in the 50 States or District of Columbia.

We need to reach all of the elderly and disabled who don’t automatically qualify for the extra help and may not realize they can get money back for their community through this program—if they apply.

If you think you might qualify for the extra help contact SSA or see your tribal healthcare benefits coordinator. More information is available at SocialSecurity.gov. You can also call SSA toll-free at 1-800-772-1213.

Social security benefits Indian Country.

Kimberly Yellow Robe (Rosebud Sioux) is the Regional American Indian Public Affairs Specialist, San Francisco Region, SSA.

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