Doing the Twist on Senior Drug Assistance

1960s rocker Chubby Checker puts new twist on Medicare drug help for needy seniors.  Medicare is giving more than one million low-income senior citizens as much as $3,900 in additional prescription drug assistance. To promote the new program, the Social Security Administration has enlisted Chubby Checker, who introduced the dance and hit song “The Twist” in the early 1960s.

This “extra help” program, which took effect January 1, helps seniors who own life insurance policies or get regular financial help from relatives to pay for day-to-day expenses.  Hilary Dalin, associate director for benefits at the National Council on Aging, notes that “The safety net is frayed and this is a way to start stitching it back together again.”  Income limits are $16,245 a year for singles and $21,855 for married couples.  Assets – stocks, bonds and bank accounts – are limited to $12,510 for singles and $25,010 for married couples, while the value of home and cars do not figure into the equation.  Benefits vary according to income.  The extra-help program eliminates premiums and yearly deductibles; co-pays can be as low as $1.10 for generic prescriptions and $3.30 for brand names.  Approximately 32 million senior citizens participate in the Medicare Part D prescription program, with 30 percent of them currently enrolled in the extra-help program.

According to Chubby Checker, who is 68,  “It’s extra help, and this is what I’m all about.”  The promotional campaign includes, posters, brochures and a television public service announcement.

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