CMS: More than 20 million Medicare patients got free screenings this year

Nearly 2 million receive Medicare Part D "donut hole" discounts on branded drugs

WASHINGTON — A growing number of people with Medicare are using free preventive services provided by the Affordable Care Act, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said.

Nearly 20.5 million people with Medicare reviewed their health status at a free annual wellness or received other preventive services without any deductible or cost sharing this year, CMS said, while nearly 1.8 million received discounts on branded drugs in the Medicare Part D coverage gap, also known as the "donut hole," between January and August. Free preventive services include screenings for breast, cervical, colorectal and prostate cancer and cholesterol and other cardiovascular conditions, diabetes and others, in addition to annual wellness visits.

"Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, more people with Medicare are getting preventive services like mammograms for free," U.S. Department of Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius said. "The new healthcare law is also making prescription drugs more affordable for millions of seniors and people with disabilities."

The CMS also said average Medicare Part D drug plan premiums would remain "virtually unchanged" in 2012, while Medicare Advantage premiums would be 4% lower than in 2011.

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