More than 6,000 people in Hawaii with Medicare saved more than $1.8 million on prescription drugs in the first six months of 2012, according to an announcement Monday by Rep. Mazie Hirono on Medicare’s 47th Anniversary.
The savings come from changes made in the health care reform law, the Affordable Care Act, that close the coverage gap in prescription drugs known as the "donut hole."
This gap is created when Medicare recipients reach their coverage limit and are forced to pay the full cost of their prescription drugs.
"Forty-seven years ago, when Medicare was signed into law, a solemn promise was made to our kupuna that we would not let them go without health care coverage," said Hirono. "Today, the health care reform law is continuing that commitment by helping put more money in our seniors’ wallets during these tough economic times and closing the prescription drug donut hole."
Medicare beneficiaries in the "donut hole" are receiving a 50 percent discount on covered brand-name drugs, and a 14 percent discount on generic drugs. Discounts for prescription drugs in this donut hole will continue to increase each year until 2020, when the coverage gap will be fully closed.
Since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law in 2010, tens of thousands of people in Hawaii with Medicare have saved more than $15.1 million on the cost of prescription drugs in the "donut hole":
- In 2010, nearly 24,500 people received a $250 one-time rebate, for a total savings of $6,123,500 statewide.
- In 2011, nearly 22,000 people saved a total of $7,195,472 through prescription drug discounts.
"Medicare has made a critical difference in seniors’ lives for nearly half a century. Yet Republicans in Congress are working hard to cut Medicare benefits and increase health care costs for seniors. The hundreds of thousands of people with Medicare in Hawaii deserve better, and I’ll never stop fighting for our kupuna," said Hirono.