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WASHINGTON — More than 5.1 million seniors and people with disabilities on Medicare saved billions on prescription drugs, thanks to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, according to Department of Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
New data found that these individuals saved more than $3.2 billion on prescription drugs, while savings for seniors included a one-time $250 rebate check to those who hit the "donut hole" coverage gap in 2010 and a 50% discount on covered brand-name drugs in the donut hole in 2011.
"Without the healthcare law, more than 5.1 million seniors would have faced $3.2 billion in higher drug costs," Secretary Sebelius said. "As we move forward, seniors will save even more as the new law completely eliminates the Medicare donut hole."
Meanwhile, about 103,000 seniors and people with disabilities saved $93 million in the donut hole through the first two months of 2012, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. This year, Medicare beneficiaries will receive a 50% discount from manufacturers on covered brand-name drugs and a 14% savings on generic drugs in the donut hole, according to HHS and CMS, which noted that The Affordable Care Act expands these discounts over time until the donut hole is closed in 2020.
"Already this year, tens of thousands of seniors and people with disabilities are starting to see increased savings as they enter the donut hole," CMS acting administrator Marilyn Tavenner said. "The Affordable Care Act has made prescription drugs more affordable for Medicare beneficiaries, protecting the health and pocketbooks of millions of America's seniors."