FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Nathan Heggem
Senior Communications and
March 21, 2011
Medicare Rights Center Marks One-Year Anniversary of the Affordable Care Act
-- Health Reform Expands Access to Preventive Care,
Begins to Close Doughnut Hole --
New York, NY—One year ago this week, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed into law, bringing real benefits to the tens of millions of Americans who have Medicare. As a result of the ACA:
- over three million consumers who reached the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap (commonly known as the “doughnut hole”) in 2010 have received a $250 rebate check;
- consumers who fall into the doughnut hole this year will see a 50 percent discount on brand-name drugs;
- over 150,000 Medicare consumers have received Medicare’s new annual wellness visit since January 1;
- consumers have access to preventive services, including mammograms, colonoscopies, and osteoporosis screenings, at no out-of-pocket cost;
- the Medicare program will see savings as a result of strengthened fraud-fighting efforts; and
- the financial health of the Medicare program is improved, putting Medicare in a stronger position to serve older adults and people with disabilities in the future.
“A year after health reform became the law of the land, millions of Americans have greater access to the health care they need,” said Joe Baker, president of the Medicare Rights Center. “We know that real people are seeing the benefits of the ACA, including the phaseout of the doughnut hole and increased access to preventive care, because we hear from them on our national hotline. Their stories throw into stark relief the benefits of reform and serve as a reminder of why the law must be implemented.”
Medicare Rights has heard from people with Medicare who have experienced the benefits of health reform firsthand:
Mr. W in Staten Island, NY falls into the doughnut hole each year. Mr. W takes a number of expensive medications, and with an income just over the limit for Extra Help, a program that helps people with limited incomes afford drugs, he must pay thousands of dollars worth of bills when he reaches the gap. His three brand-name drugs cost him over $500 each month, but this year the 50 percent discount will cut his out-of-pocket costs for these drugs in half.
Ms. B in Westchester County, NY took advantage of the new annual wellness visit just last week. During her hour-long visit, a nurse measured her height, weight and blood pressure, and Ms. B and her doctor updated her medical history and discussed a personal care plan. For Ms. B, the annual wellness visit represents an important opportunity to establish a baseline of health and build rapport with her doctor. This patient-doctor partnership will be invaluable in helping her plan for the future and access the medical care she needs.
Of course, health reform is about more than just immediate benefits; the law is also an investment in the future. The ACA invests in provisions to improve coordination of care for people who have both Medicare and Medicaid, test the efficacy of new health care delivery models that pay providers based on performance rather than per service and increase access to primary care physicians. Overall, the ACA extends the Medicare trust fund by 12 years, a feat achieved through targeted, responsible savings that do not cut Medicare benefits or raise cost-sharing for consumers.
“Despite the fact that the ACA improves the Medicare program’s financial health, recent fervor over deficit reduction among policymakers in Washington is viewed by some as an opportunity to cut Medicare benefits and shift costs to consumers.,” said Mr. Baker, “Many of those who are calling for the repeal of health reform, and who previously targeted Medicare consumers with misinformed claims that the ACA would reduce access to care, now support proposals that would end Medicare as we know it and leave many older adults and people with disabilities underinsured and unable to afford the services they require. The time is now to let health reform do its job and protect the Medicare program for now and for the future.”
The Medicare Rights Center is marking the first anniversary of the ACA with a free webinar, Health Reform and Medicare, on Tuesday, March 22 from 2:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., Eastern Time. The webinar has already reached capacity due to popular demand, but a link to the recording will be available on www.medicarerights.org shortly after the event ends.
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Medicare Rights Center is a national, nonprofit consumer service organization that works to ensure access to affordable health care for older adults and people with disabilities through counseling and advocacy, educational programs, and public policy initiatives.
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