U.S. Senator Mark Pryor today announced that thousands of Arkansas seniors are benefitting from a provision under the health care reform law that closes the Medicare prescription drug "doughnut hole."
According to a recent report by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, 34,000 Arkansas seniors saved an average of $585 on prescription drugs last year as a result of the doughnut hole discounts for a total savings of almost $20 million.
"Although there are many critics to health care reform, no one can deny that 34,000 seniors in Arkansas are benefiting from the new law," Pryor said. "By closing the "doughnut hole,' I am keeping my commitment to help our seniors live life to the fullest."
Before health care reform, seniors paid the full cost of prescription drugs after their yearly drug expenses exceeded $2,930. Drug coverage wouldn't resume until total drug spending hit $6,657 for the year. Health care reform addressed the problem through prescription drug discounts for people affected by the doughnut hole.
In 2010, Medicare beneficiaries who were affected by the doughnut hole received a one-time payment of $250 to help offset the cost. Last year and this year, patients receive a 50% discount on all brand name drugs purchased while they are in the doughnut hole. The savings will continue increasing until 2020, when the doughnut hole closes completely.
Pryor encourages Arkansans to visit his website to see an interactive map that shows how many seniors in each county were helped by the doughnut hole fix, as well as the total amount saved.