Updated July 2 at 5:02pm

R.I. seniors benefit from health care law

With the holiday season stretching many budgets, thousands of Rhode Island seniors have a little extra money thanks to prescription drug savings made possible by the Affordable Care Act.

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R.I. seniors benefit from health care law

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WASHINGTON – With the holiday season stretching many budgets, thousands of Rhode Island seniors have a little extra money thanks to prescription drug savings made possible by the Affordable Care Act. Through October of this year 10,600 Medicare recipients in Rhode Island saved more than $7 million on prescription drugs, for an average savings of $677 per person.

Prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act, thousands of Rhode Island seniors fell into the so-called Medicare “doughnut hole” and were forced to pay the full cost of their prescription drugs. In 2010, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse fought to eliminate the doughnut hole as part of the Affordable Care Act, enabling the savings they are seeing today.

Additionally, new data released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services show that, with the passage of the Affordable Care Act, in the first 11 months of 2013 more than 87,000 people in Rhode Island received at least one free preventive service at no out-of-pocket cost, such as an annual wellness visit or mammogram.

“Seniors who were hurt by the doughnut hole for years are now saving hundreds of dollars on their prescription drugs while also gaining access to free preventive services,” said Whitehouse. “These examples are further proof that the Affordable Care Act is making a real difference for Rhode Islanders.”

The doughnut hole used to expose seniors to the full cost of prescription drugs after they and their plan spent a certain amount of money ($2,970) for covered drugs in a year, but before they hit catastrophic coverage ($4,750). The Affordable Care Act has been closing the doughnut hole in phases since it was enacted in 2010.

Rhode Island, Affordable Care Act¸

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