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Sen. Brown Announces New Medicare Benefits for Seniors Thanks to New Health Reform Law


Location: Austintown, OH

Free Annual Wellness Visit and Preventive Services Now Available for Medicare Beneficiaries as Part of Health Reform Law

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced at a press conference today in Austintown that Ohio seniors receiving Medicare can now receive 50 percent discounts on brand-name drugs and biologics in the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap, also known as the "donut hole." As part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA)--the new health reform law--Medicare beneficiaries will also receive free annual wellness check-ups and free preventive health screenings with no co-payments or deductibles.

"I have heard from so many Ohio seniors struggling with rising health care and prescription drug costs--seniors who are cutting pills in half, or skipping doses altogether, because prices are simply unaffordable. Ohio seniors shouldn't have to worry about how they're going to afford doctor visits on top of prescription drug costs--and now their health care costs will go down thanks to this new law," Brown said.

"But if the incoming House Republican majority has their way, they'll take that all back. They want to enact a "clean repeal' of health care reform and bring back the Medicare "donut hole.' I hope these new representatives will put their constituents before health insurance companies," Brown continued.

Nearly 100,000 Ohio seniors entered the "donut hole"--a gap in prescription drug coverage in the Medicare Part D program--last year. These seniors received $250 rebate checks to help assist with the cost of their prescription drugs. This year, they will begin receiving a 50 percent discount on prescription drugs while in the "donut hole." If the incoming Republican majority in the House of Representatives repeals health care reform--with a vote on repeal scheduled for January 12--further prescription drug discounts for Ohio seniors could be eliminated. Discounts will increase every year until 2020, when the "donut hole" will be closed altogether.

According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), approximately 1.8 million Ohio seniors will be eligible in 2011 for free preventive services and free annual wellness check-ups as a result of the new health reform law. Below are some of the preventive services that will be free for Medicare beneficiaries beginning January 2011:

* Screening for colorectal cancer in adults, beginning at age 50 years and continuing until age 75 years
* Osteoporosis screening for women aged 65 and older
* Mammography screening for women every 1-2 years for women aged 40 and older

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