Healthcare law helping 1.2 million get free preventative care
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07/10/12 Janelle Irwin
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U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius in February, 2012.


photo by Janelle Irwin

Statistics released today show that more than 1.2 million Americans have been able to get at least one preventative healthcare service at no cost during the first half of this year. U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius reacted to the news about the positive impacts of the new healthcare law on Medicare recipients during a conference call.

“Before 2011, millions of seniors and people with disabilities who had Medicare, had to pay what were often significant co-pays and deductibles for preventative services. For example, a colon cancer screening could cost some seniors hundreds of dollars out of their own pockets. These costs forced many seniors to choose between getting the care they needed and paying for other necessities like rent or groceries or even prescription drugs.”

And Sebelius called attention to other provisions of the Affordable Care Act that, when added up, will help save the average Medicare recipient save $4,200 over nine years. One of those directly addresses the high cost of prescription medications.

“In the past, as many as one in four beneficiaries went without a prescription every year because they couldn’t afford it. Today, if you are in the prescription drug coverage gap known as the donut hole, you receive a 50% discount on covered brand name drugs automatically when you fill your prescription.”

Despite these benefits to Medicare recipients, the healthcare law remains controversial among conservatives. One popular argument has been that expanding health coverage to more people will increase costs. Sebelius said enrollment is on the rise, but it hasn’t had the negative cost impact some have anticipated.

“For example, we saw premiums in Medicare Advantage plans fall an average of 7% between 2011 and 2012 while enrollment went up about 10%.”

But the distaste for what Republicans call Obamacare is so strong the U.S. House of Representatives has threatened to overturn the law. The measure would not likely pass the democratic-led Senate. Regardless, Sebelius cautions lawmakers and constituents about the effects that would have.

“For millions of seniors and people with disabilities who have seen the impact of these benefits in their own lives, the consequences of repeal would be devastating.”

In Florida, Governor Rick Scott has said he won’t implement parts of the healthcare law because it is too costly. That includes expanding the state’s Medicaid program and implementing insurance exchanges where people can shop for the best premiums. Changes to Medicare are handled by the Federal Government.

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