Last week, several announcements from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) showed how people with Medicare are already benefiting from the Affordable Care Act:
- Nearly 3.6 million people with Medicare saved $2.1 billion on their prescription drugs in 2011 thanks to the Affordable Care Act.
- The average person with Medicare will save nearly $4,200 by 2021 because of the new law.
- Medicare Advantage premiums have fallen by 7 percent on average and enrollment has risen by about 10 percent from 2011, and premiums are down by 16 percent since 2010.
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius talked about these announcements during her trip to Florida, where 238,362 Florida residents with Medicare saved $141,948,339 on their prescription drugs in 2011 thanks to the health reform law, the Affordable Care Act. Behind these numbers are compelling stories like that of Floridian William Morris who saved $2,000 on the cost of his chemotherapy because of the law.
In Orlando, the Secretary participated in a State of Seniors Health discussion, addressing 85 seniors and community leaders at the Beardall Senior Center. She was joined by a number of panelists including Orlando pharmacist Carmen Rosado. As the Orlando Sentinel reported, Carmen is now retired and on Medicare, so she has seen both sides of the Part D program. She shared that:
“In the 46 years I practiced pharmacy, I have seen seniors who had to decide whether to eat or buy their medicines,” Rosado said Thursday. “Sometimes I would pay for their medicines, because [their situation] would hurt me. They would say: ‘Of all these medicines, which are the important ones?’ With the health law, they can continue with their drug regimen to better their health.”
Unfortunately, if Republicans in Congress had their way, seniors like Mr. Morris would lose his $2,000 discount on his chemotherapy drugs. People on Medicare would pay over $2 billion more per year on prescription drugs. The Houseof Representatives voted last year to repeal the drug discount program along with all the other policies in the health reform law.
President Obama is committed to strengthening Medicare the right way – by reducing health care costs rather than shifting costs to seniors – and ensuring today’s seniors and the next generation have access to quality, affordable Medicare coverage.
Kathy Greenlee is Assistant Secretary for Aging at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services