As House Republicans begin the new year planning to repeal 2010's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act—with a vote scheduled for Jan. 12—Senate Democrats are urging the House GOP not to repeal the so-called “doughnut hole” fix for seniors, which took effect on New Year's Day.
Senate Democrats warn Boehner about importance of 'doughnut hole' fix
In a letter sent today to House of Representatives Speaker-elect John Boehner (R-Ohio), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and four other members of the Senate Democratic leadership highlighted a provision in the Medicare Part D program that says once an initial coverage limit is reached, beneficiaries must absorb 100% of their drug costs until catastrophic coverage kicks in. In 2010, that gap translated to $3,610.
“That means that approximately 3.4 million U.S. seniors with the heaviest reliance on prescription drugs faced the prospect of paying up to $4,000 out of pocket before they qualified for further assistance from Medicare,” said the correspondence from Reid, Senate Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin of Illinois, Senate Democratic Vice Chairman Charles Schumer of New York, Senate Democratic Conference Secretary Patty Murray of Washington and Senate Democratic Policy Committee Vice Chair Debbie Stabenow of Michigan.
The senators asked the House leadership to consider what they called the “unintended consequences” that a repeal of the law would have on consumer protections that help middle-class Americans. The Affordable Care Act fixes that gap by providing that seniors receive a 50% discount on the brand name drugs they purchase while they are in the "doughnut hole," which could save them thousands of dollars beginning in 2011.
“If House Republicans move forward with a repeal of the healthcare law that threatens consumer benefits like the ‘doughnut hole' fix, we will block it in the Senate,” the letter said. “This proposal deserves a chance to work. It is too important to be treated as collateral damage in a partisan mission to repeal healthcare.”
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