Illinois’ SMART Act Changes – Fewer Programs Available, Especially for Seniors

July 16, 2012 § 1 Comment

As readers of this blog are aware, Governor Quinn signed the SMART bill into law on June 14th.  This means big changes to the programs available from the State of Illinois, especially for Seniors.

The biggest impact for most Seniors will be the elimination of the Illinois Cares Rx and Circuit Breaker Property Tax Relief programs.  Thousands of people will no longer receive drug plan coverage with no premium.  If you were previously covered by Illinois Cares Rx, you will now need to pay a monthly premium for your drug plan.  Those who have not been contacted by their drug program provider, should contact them to find out the amount of their premium.  Premiums are due beginning July 1.  If you refill a prescription after July 1, you will want to show your pharmacy your new prescription card, or you may be charged full price.  If you don’t have a new card, contact your plan provider.

The bright spot to this is that you are not required to remain with the current Part D provider you have if you believe the premiums are higher than you can afford.  You have until August 31 to choose a provider, and now, you can choose from any of the 30+ Part D providers, not just the 4 who participated in Illinois Cares Rx.  To compare and find the best plan for you, click on this link:  Medicare.gov.  You’ll need to know the pharmacy you want to use and the names and amounts of all prescriptions.  The webpage will then give you a list of results based on your criteria.  The change in drug plan will take effect September 1.

For those who miss the deadline, or those who were not enrolled in Illinois Care Rx, open enrollment is November 15 through December 7.  Any change in plan after August 31 will take effect January 1, 2013.

So is there any program still available to help with prescription costs?  For those who qualify for Extra Help (LIS) through the Federal Government, you will still have a monthly premium, but the cost of drugs is significantly less.  There is both an asset and an income limit for the Extra Help program.  In order to qualify, you must have assets less than $13,070 single/$26,120 married; and income less than $16,755 single and $22,695 annually.

According to the Illinois Department on Aging’s website, it appears that the license plate sticker discount and Seniors Ride Free Program will still be continued.

If you have questions, you can contact a Senior Health Assistance Program site near you for assistance.  To find your nearest location, you can contact the Senior HelpLine at 800-252-8966 or 888-206-1327 for TTY.

The Law Office of Dawn M. Weekly, PC is located in Sandwich, Illinois and focuses on elder law and Life Care Planning for clients.  The office may be reached by calling 815-570-2334.

   Every day of every week, Weekly Law is there for you.

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