As the second anniversary of the Affordable Care Act approaches, new data shows that more than 5.1 million seniors and people with disabilities on Medicare saved over $3.2 billion on prescription drugs because of the new health care law, Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), announced today while at the St. Louis Community College at Forest Park.
For St. Louis resident Fritzi Lainoff and her husband, the discounts meant $2,500 back in their pockets last year. "It was a blessing," she said. "The law's Medicare savings have made an enormous difference."
Savings for seniors include a one-time $250 rebate check to seniors who hit the "donut hole" coverage gap in 2010 and a 50 percent discount on covered brand-name drugs in the donut hole in 2011.
In addition, data released today by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) show that through the first two months of 2012, about 103,000 seniors and people with disabilities saved $93 million in the donut hole.
"Without the health care law, more than 5.1 million seniors would have faced $3.2 billion in higher drug costs," Secretary Sebelius said. "As we move forward, seniors will save even more as the new law completely eliminates the Medicare donut hole, delivering more relief to Americans like the Lainoff's."
In 2012, Medicare beneficiaries will receive a 50 percent discount from manufacturers on covered brand name drugs and a 14 percent savings on generic drugs in the donut hole. The Affordable Care Act expands these discounts over time until the donut hole is closed in 2020.
"Already this year, tens of thousands of seniors and people with disabilities are starting to see increased savings as they enter the donut hole," said CMS Acting Administrator Marilyn Tavenner. "The Affordable Care Act has made prescription drugs more affordable for Medicare beneficiaries, protecting the health and pocketbooks of millions of America's seniors."
For more information on how the Affordable Care Act closes the donut hole over time, please visit: http://www.healthcare.gov/law/features/65-older/drug-discounts/index.html
For a report on how the Affordable Care Act strengthened Medicare in 2011, please visit: http://www.cms.gov/apps/files/MedicareReport2011.pdf