Health care reform may have been suffered some bruises at the hands of Congress and the Supreme Court that could shorten its reach and Medicare may face cuts during the next round of budget negotiations between President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans.
But one part of Obamacare appears to be working as intended: Older Americans and people with disabilities are paying less for their prescription drugs under Medicare. According to a report issued Thursday by the Obama administration, health care reform has saved 6.1 million people more than $5.7 billion.
Specifically, the health care reform law closes the notorious "donut hole" in the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit. Since President George W. Bush introduced pharmacy coverage to Medicare in a 2003 law, the drug benefit came with a gap during which some Medicare beneficiaries had to pay the full cost for their medications. Obamacare started offering more help for prescription expenses in 2010 and by 2020, the donut hole will be no more.
The report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services also includes updated information about Medicare premiums, beneficiaries' use of the program's preventive medicine coverage, and other matters.
Giving older people cheaper medicines was supposed to help win their support for health care reform. Unfortunately for Obama, that hasn't really worked out. An October poll conducted by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation revealed 39 percent of voters aged 65 or older thought they'd be worse off under the health care reform law and just 25 percent thought they'd be better off.
The Affordable Care Act - A Stronger Medicare Program in 2012 by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services