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Seniors pay less under healthcare reform

June 28, 2012 at 7:48 PM   |   Comments

PHILADELPHIA, June 28 (UPI) -- U.S. seniors will not have to make preventive care co-payments and the so-called Medicare Part D doughnut hole will not be reduced, a healthcare expert says.

Dr. Richard G. Stefanacci, executive director of the Health Policy Institute of the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, said everyone on Medicare will get one free visit each year to a primary care physician -- with no co-payments -- for preventive services such as screening for blood pressure, cholesterol and colon cancer.

"The Part D medication coverage gap will be funded in part through a 50 percent rebate paid by pharmaceutical companies whose products are utilized during the coverage gap. In addition there will be federal subsidies of 25 percent of the brand-name drug cost beginning in 2013 such that the Medicare beneficiary out-of-pocket for medication obtained through the Part D coverage gap will drop to just 25 percent," Stefanacci said in a statement.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said 5 million Medicare beneficiaries saved a total of $3.7 billion on prescription drugs since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law in 2010.

Medicare Advantage plans will experience further decreases in their reimbursement through pegging of Medicare Advantage payments to percentages of Medicare fee-for-service rates. As of 2008, the federal government spent 12 percent more on Medicare Advantage than it did for comparable care under traditional Medicare. The subsidies, which cost an additional $14 billion to the Medicare program last year alone, will gradually be reduced until payments to Medicare Advantage are in line with the cost of traditional Medicare.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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