Monday, February 19 , 2018, 2:19 am | Fair 48º

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Capps Highlights Health Reform Benefits for Central Coast Medicare Beneficiaries

Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act marks its two-year anniversary

Ahead of the new health-care reform law’s two-year anniversary, Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, highlighted benefits to Medicare beneficiaries in California’s 23rd Congressional District.

As a result of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, 6,200 seniors in the district have received discounts on their brand-name prescription drugs for a total savings of $3.8 million, an average savings of $610 per senior since last January. Additionally, 59,000 seniors in the district received preventive care without a co-pay or additional out-of-pocket costs.

“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. “Two years after the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, tens of thousands of Central Coast seniors are already feeling the benefits this law provides. For example, the gradual closing of the prescription drug ‘donut hole’ has helped seniors in my congressional district save an average of $610 this year on their medications. And 59,000 seniors have been able to get the preventive and wellness care they need, when they need it, without any out-of-pocket costs. The Affordable Care Act is clearly living up to its promise for our seniors — ensuring that their care improves and health care costs get under control.”

Several Central Coast seniors enrolled in Medicare have taken advantage of provisions in the Affordable Care Act to receive better care and save money and written to Capps’ congressional offices.

“I won’t be impoverished again by the cost of my medicines,” Ella May of Nipomo said. Fay of Morro Bay added, “Drug coverage is more affordable.” And Ed from Carpinteria noted, “Filling the donut hole gap helps keep my prescription drug costs down.”

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 continue to grow until the hole is eliminated in 2019. Also beginning in January 2011, all Medicare beneficiaries can receive preventive services, such as an annual wellness visit, mammogram and colonoscopy, with no co-pay, co-insurance or deductible.

Before the health-care reform 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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