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, Senator Whitehouse successfully fought to eliminate the doughnut hole as part of the Affordable Care Act.
Over the years, Ive heard from hundreds of Rhode Island seniors who were hurt by the doughnut hole, said U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. Seniors should never have to choose between putting food on the table and paying for the medication they need to stay healthy. Fixing the doughnut hole was one of my top priorities when I was elected to the Senate, so Im proud to see the Affordable Care Act saving Rhode Island seniors millions of dollars every year.
While much of the country is still trying to figure out the Affordable Care Act, here in Rhode Island we have been fully committed to ensuring that Rhode Island is a national leader in implementing health reform since the law's passage in 2010, said Lt. Governor Elizabeth H. Roberts, chair of the RI Healthcare Reform Commission. And for Rhode Island seniors who are already benefiting from provisions in the law, such as closing the prescription coverage gap or donut hole, health reform has improved their lives.
The doughnut hole exposes seniors to the full cost of prescription drugs after they and their plan spend 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 closes the doughnut hole in phases over a ten-year period.
Because of the Affordable Care Act, in 2011 and 2012 seniors in the doughnut hole received a 50% discount from the drug manufacturers on all brand name drugs. Starting this year, the federal government will subsidize an additional 2.5% of brand-name drug costs for seniors in the doughnut hole. These subsidies will increase each year until the coverage gap is closed in 2020.
In 2012, Rhode Island seniors in the doughnut hole saved $579 each on average.