New York (CNNMoney.com) - It's one of the first tangible results of the health reform law: This week the government will start mailing $250 checks to seniors to close the Medicare "donut hole," which leaves seniors with a gap in their prescription drug coverage.
The first checks will be sent June 10, three weeks earlier than scheduled, to about 80,000 people. The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that about 4 million seniors will get $250 checks in 2010.
At a press conference last month, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said closing the donut hole is "one of the biggest ways the new law is going to help seniors."
Seniors get stuck in the donut hole if their prescription drugs cost too much to be paid for through basic Medicare coverage, but aren't expensive enough to qualify for catastrophic coverage.