Seniors benefit from closing of doughnut hole
Rhode Island seniors saved more than $8 million through discounts on prescription drugs in 2012, according to U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse. He reported the numbers recently while commemorating the three-year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act.
Of the 13,834 Rhode Island seniors who saved money last year, 93 are Jamestown residents. Islanders saved $63,984, an average of $688 per person.
Prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act in March 2010, thousands of Rhode Islanders fell into the so-called Medicare “doughnut hole” and were forced to pay the full cost of their prescription drugs. Whitehouse successfully fought to eliminate the doughnut hole as part of the legislation.
“Over the years, I’ve heard from hundreds of Rhode Island seniors who were hurt by the doughnut hole,” said Whitehouse. “Seniors should never have to choose between putting food on the table and paying for the medication they need to stay healthy.”
The doughnut hole exposes seniors to the full cost of prescription drugs after they spend $2,970 for covered drugs in a year, but before they hit the catastrophic coverage of $4,750. Medicare doesn’t cover seniors who fall within the threshold. The Affordable Care Act closes the doughnut hole in phases over a 10-year period.
Because of the Affordable Care Act, seniors in the doughnut hole received a 50 percent discount from the drug manufacturers on all brand name drugs. Starting this year, the federal government will subsidize an additional 2.5 percent for seniors in the doughnut hole. These subsidies will increase each year until the coverage gap is closed in 2020.
In 2011, 85 Jamestown seniors saved a total of $48,582.