The Associated Press

Health Care Law Helps Mass. Seniors Save $76M

BOSTON — Federal officials say the health care law championed by President Barack Obama and scorned by Republicans has helped Massachusetts seniors save more than $76 million on prescription drugs this year.

The U.S Department of Health and Human Services says the Affordable Care Act has enabled seniors in the Medicare’s “donut hole” coverage gap save an average of $610 in the first eight months of this year.

The health care law provides better Medicare coverage for seniors with high prescription costs, and no copayments for preventive care.

Nearly 519,000 Massachusetts residents have received at least one preventive service with no co-payments in the first eight months of this year.

The average Massachusetts resident with traditional Medicare will save $5,000 and people with high prescription costs will save more than 18,000 from 2010 to 2022.

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  • dennis byron

    But what neither the Obama election campaign nor WBUR (I know. I know. that’s redundant) want to tell you is that the real headline should be

    “George Bush saved 550,000 Massachusetts seniors on Medicare Part D over $1 Billion”

    since implementing Medicare Part D in 2006. Obviously anyone that falls into the donut hole is glad for the drug-manufacturer discounts negotiated by the White House in its back-room deal; it’s found money after all.  But that deal only affects any savings those relatively few seniors realize depending where they are in the donut hole. That’s less than 10% of  us Massachusetts seniors and most us only creep into the edge of the hole later in the year.

    The real savings — over a billion dollars so far since the Part D law was passed by the Republicans and opposed by the Democrats – happen three ways:

    1. These relatively few people in the donut hole (50,000 plus or minus) also get a 75% discount in their initial Part D spend phase because of the Republicans, a benefit Democrats opposed and still oppose. That’s as much as $750 more in savings for each person in the donut hole credited to President Bush, not President Obama.
    2. Almost all of the 90% of us seniors not affected by the donut hole at all
    (500,000 plus or minus) get a 75% discount on average from what we would have spent if the Democrats had succeeded in blocking Part D as they wanted to and still want to (President Obama criticised it on 60 Minutes on September 23). That’s about $500 each.
    3. The unfortunate 1% of us with drug costs so high that our spending blows through the donut hole relatively early in the year (5000 plus or minus) save 90% of their very expensive drug regimen costs on the average compared to the full amount that the Democrats wanted them to spend. That’s often tens of thousands of dollars each.

    Oh by the way:

    – Low-income seniors cannot fall into the donut hole at all and they also get free drug coverage and nominal co-pays because of President Bush and despite the Democratic Party’s and President Obama’s opposition to Part D. — Massachusetts seniors did not really “save” the money mentioned in the WBUR article at all (nor some of the savings I calculated either) because both before and after Part D was implemented in 2006, and PPACA was implement in 2011, Massachusetts seniors had (and seniors in many other states had) a State Pharmaceutical Assistance Program (SPAP). So in Massachusetts, the no-donut-hole concern for low income seniors also applies to people at middle income level to a large degree The bad news in that, if you choose to look at it that way, is that we seniors can’t save money we wouldn’t have spent anyways because of the Massachusetts SPAP.Only a very small number of Massachusetts seniors are so well off and have such a high retirement income that they do not qualify for the Massachusetts SPAP. And then only a subset of that group have drug needs such that the donut hole affects them. 

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