Monday, May 2 , 2016, 6:23 pm | Fair 60º

Capps Highlights New Data Showing Health Reform Benefits to California Medicare Beneficiaries

By Ashley Schapitl for Rep. Lois Capps |

Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, on Wednesday highlighted benefits to California’s Medicare beneficiaries as a result of the Affordable Care Act, with new data made available by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Since the enactment of health-care reform, Medicare beneficiaries in California have saved $410.8 million thanks to the assistance the health-care law provides to beneficiaries who get caught in the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap known as the “donut hole.”

In the first 10 months of 2012 alone, 235,245 individuals in California have saved an average of $594 on prescription drugs. During the same period, about 1,921,565 people with Medicare in California received one or more preventive services at no additional cost, with 203,038 having received an annual wellness visit.

“Helping seniors maintain their health by managing out-of-control prescription drug costs and gaining access to free preventive care is one of the biggest accomplishments of health care reform,” Capps said. “These new data clearly demonstrate that seniors are continuing to benefit from health-care reform in their daily lives. What’s more, these beneficiaries are saving money while making smart choices to improve their health.”

“The health-care law is saving money for people with Medicare,” U.S. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said. “Everyone with Medicare should look at their health and drug plan options for additional value before the Medicare open enrollment period ends this week.”

Beginning in January 2011, all Medicare beneficiaries received a 50 percent discount on brand-name drugs when they hit the Medicare Part D prescription drug “donut hole.” The benefits to seniors with high prescription drug costs will continue to increase under the Affordable Care Act — the discount on brand-name drugs increases to 52.5 percent in 2013 and to 55 percent in 2015 and will continue to grow until the hole is eliminated in 2019.

Also beginning in January 2011, all Medicare beneficiaries became eligible to receive preventive services, including an annual wellness visit, vaccines, mammograms and colonoscopies, without a co-pay, co-insurance or deductible. Before the health reform care law, seniors were permitted only one physical over the course of their time on Medicare, and often faced high out-of-pocket costs to access preventive screenings.

— Ashley Schapitl is press secretary for Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara.

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