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Statement from HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on the 47th anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid


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Today, we mark the 47th anniversary of the signing of Medicare and Medicaid into law, a promise we made to older Americans and the most vulnerable of our citizens that they will have the medical care they need to live healthier lives.

For our elderly, the pledge reflects the acknowledgement that after contributing a lifetime to our nation's well-being, our seniors deserve to be able to live out their years with the security and peace of mind that comes with having affordable health insurance under Medicare. For low income children, parents and people with disabilities, Medicaid created a federal-state partnership to provide a secure health care safety net to promote stronger families and communities across our country.

The health care reforms in the Affordable Care Act strengthen that promise. Because of the Affordable Care Act, 32.5 million seniors and people with disabilities last year were able to take advantage of at least one preventive service, such as a mammogram or cardiovascular disease screening, at no cost.

More than 5.2 million Medicare beneficiaries whose spending on prescription drugs caused them to fall into the donut hole" gap in Medicare drug coverage, where they previously received no reimbursement, have saved more than $3.9 billion on their medications through the savings mandated by the health care reform law. The law closes the donut hole by 2020.

Additionally, improvements in the Affordable Care Act strengthen the Medicare Trust Fund, extending its solvency until at least 2024.

It's a new day in health care as we renew the promise our nation made 47 years ago to our elderly parents, aunts and uncles, and neighbors to that they know Medicare and Medicaid will be there to help them live healthier lives, with security and dignity.

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