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Closing The Medicare 'Doughnut Hole' Saved $10 Million for Nebraska Seniors

Targeted News Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 7 -- The office of Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., issued the following news release:

Today, Nebraska's Senator Ben Nelson highlighted new data showing more than 17,000 Nebraskans with Medicare have saved more than $10 million on their prescription drugs, as the gap in Medicare's prescription drug coverage is shrinking.

"This good news confirms what I've been hearing directly from Nebraska seniors," Senator Ben Nelson said on his weekly conference call with members of the Nebraska news media. "More and more seniors and people with disabilities on Medicare are saving money on their prescription drugs. Many of them are on a fixed income and every dollar they can save makes a difference."

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported yesterday that, through the end of October, 2.65 million people with Medicare have saved more than $1.5 billion on their prescriptions.

These are people who were in the so-called Medicare Part D "doughnut hole," which is a gap in their prescription drug coverage. The coverage gap begins once an individual's insurer has spent $2,840 on prescription medications in any calendar year. The Medicare beneficiary then has no coverage for the next $3,600 worth of prescriptions and must pay out of his or her own pocket.

The new health care law addressed this issue by significantly reducing the costs of brand-name prescription drugs for people in the "doughnut hole."

In Nebraska, through the end of October, this change meant 17,291 people with Medicare saved more than $10.2 million in filling 118,539 prescriptions. That averages out to each of these Nebraska seniors saving $595.19.

Additionally, the new data shows 162,707 Nebraskans with Medicare have used at least one free preventive benefit - including the new Annual Wellness Visit - added to Medicare by the health care law.

"Prevention and early detection keep seniors healthier and reduce the long-term costs for Medicare. It is a smart investment," Nelson said.

"I often hear from Nebraskans who appreciate these benefits for Medicare beneficiaries and other important changes that have made private health insurance more valuable for Nebraskans, like preventing insurance companies from rejecting people with pre-existing conditions or allowing children to stay on their parents' policies until their 26th birthdays," Nelson said. "This is why I continue to work to improve the health care reform law while protecting the positive changes it has already made."

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An Associated Press story on the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap can be found here.

A USA Today story on the health care law and Medicare can be found here.

TNS 23SQ111208-JF78-3706716 StaffFurigay

Copyright:(c) 2011 Targeted News Service
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