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Bishop: Medicare Drug Premiums To Fall Next Year

Originally Posted: August 08, 2011

Southampton - Congressman Tim Bishop announced that drug costs for Medicare seniors will decline by nearly a dollar next year, with the average Medicare prescription drug plan (Part D) monthly premium hovering around $30 in 2012. Millions of seniors are also receiving discounts on prescription drugs and free preventive services including mammograms and colon cancer screening as a result of the Affordable Care Act, which Bishop supported.

"With so much uncertainty and every dollar counting more than ever, this is good news for Suffolk County seniors," Congressman Bishop said. "Lower drug costs and free preventative care for Medicare recipients are a direct result of the Affordable Care Act. The improvements in health reform including free preventive care will help America's seniors live longer, healthier lives and keep necessary medications affordable."

The Affordable Care Act is gradually closing the "donut hole" in the Medicare Part D Prescription Drug benefit, beginning with a $250 check sent last year to seniors who reached the coverage gap in which seniors pay for their drugs out of pocket. The new health reform law continues to provide additional drug discounts for seniors on Medicare in the years ahead and completely closes the donut hole by 2020. Nearly 8,500 seniors in New York's First Congressional District received the checks, worth over $2.1 million, last year. According to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), 900,000 seniors have saved more than $460 million on prescription drugs so far in 2011 due to a 50 percent discount for brand-name prescription drugs in the coverage gap.

Over 17 million Medicare beneficiaries, including over one million New York seniors, have taken advantage of the new, free preventive services this year, according to HHS. The services include an Annual Wellness Visit, a new benefit created by the Affordable Care Act that allows seniors a free annual opportunity to meet with their doctor to develop or update a personalized disease-prevention plan based on current health and risk factors.

"I voted against the House Republican budget because it ends Medicare as we know it," Congressman Bishop said. "Seniors paid into Medicare their whole lives and I will work to make sure it continues to be there. America made a promise to seniors that taking care of their health as they age will not bankrupt them or their families, and I have always worked to keep that promise."

Bishop supports legislation that would authorize the Secretary of HHS to directly negotiate drug prices with manufacturers on behalf of Medicare beneficiaries as well as legislation allowing safe drug importation from Canada.

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