Seniors across the country, including in California, are catching a big break on their out-of-pocket prescription drug costs thanks to the historic health care law pushed through by President Obama and Democrats in Congress last year, according to new data released today by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
California seniors who are enrolled in Medicare's prescription drug benefit who hit the "donut hole' coverage gap received a 50 percent discount on out-of-pocket prescription drug costs in 2011, saving nearly 55,000 California seniors a collective $30 million since January. Nationwide, nearly 500,000 seniors on Medicare benefited from the new provision, saving $260 million collectively since January.
Rep. George Miller (D-Martinez), who co-authored the health care law, known as the Affordable Care Act, praised the new data.
"Seniors are catching a big break on the cost of their prescription drugs thanks to the health reforms that we passed last year," Miller said. "As more and more people reach the feared donut hole this year, we'll see even more seniors directly benefiting from this law.
"The health reform law is having a positive impact on more and more people each and every day, seniors and non-seniors alike, but Republicans in Congress continue fight it. First they voted to repeal the health care law, which would wipe out these new drug cost savings. Then they voted to end Medicare and add thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket expenses to people who enroll in Medicare. Their votes are bad for seniors and bad for the country."
On April 15, House Republicans passed a budget that would end the guarantee of Medicare. Their budget plan would raise the cost of prescription drug costs for seniors, by repealing the health reform law provision that provided the 50% discount for brand-name drugs for seniors in the "donut hole' coverage gap and that would close the "donut hole' altogether by 2020. In addition, the non-partisan Congressional Budget office found that the budget plan would more than double the typical senior's out-of-pocket health care spending beginning in the year 2022, compared to what their costs would be under traditional Medicare -- increasing their out-of-pocket costs by more than $6,000 per year.