Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Obama and allies tout preventive-services and drug benefits of health-reform law to Medicare beneficiaries in Ky.

The federal health-reform law has made drugs more affordable for seniors, broadened coverage for preventive services and made Medicare more solvent, the Obama administration and its allies are pointing out today, the 48th anniversary of the enactment of the Medicare program.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, Medicare beneficiaries in Kentucky have saved nearly $141 million on prescription drugs because of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Last year, 72,391 Kentuckians saved more than $51 million, or an average of $703 each, on prescriptions because those in the “donut hole” of Medicare Part D got a 50 percent discount on covered brand-name drugs and a 14 percent discount on generic drugs. The law will keep expanding coverage for both types of drugs until it closes the donut hole, the gap in coverage between modest and huge prescription needs.

The law also eliminated deductibles and co-payments for screening and other preventive services for seniors and people with disabilities. Last year, 485,843 Kentuckians with traditional Medicare used one or more free preventive service.

"The health care law extends the life of the Medicare Trust Fund by 10 years," said a news release from U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Louisville. From 2010 to 2012, Medicare spending per beneficiary grew 1.7 percent a year, much more slowly "than the per capita rate of growth in the economy," the release said. "And the health care law helps stop fraud with tougher screening procedures, stronger penalties, and new technology."

Earlier, the administration noted that Americans received $504 million in rebates from insurance companies because of the law's requirement that a certain percentage of premiums paid must be used for health care. In Kentucky, the rebates totaled $14.4 million to 206,771 consumers (slightly more than half, totaling almost $11 million, in the individual market) and averaged $100 per family. For other data on the effects of the law in Kentucky, click here.

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