In the first two years after “Obamacare” was signed, Medicare reforms in the law saved seniors a total of $3.4 billion in prescription drug costs by bridging a coverage gap, according to official figures.
Over 220,000 beneficiaries have saved an average of $837 in the first three months of 2012, the Medicare agency said Monday. That’s on top of $3.2 billion in savings enjoyed by some 5.1 million seniors in 2010 and 2011 thanks to the Affordable Care Act, according to the advisory on the new figures.
The savings were wrung through a combination of discounts on Medicare prescription drugs — 50 percent on brand names, 7 percent on generics — and rebates for seniors who fell under a coverage gap known as the “doughnut hole.”
“The Affordable Care Act is helping millions on Medicare save billions of dollars on care and prescription drugs,” top Medicare official Marilyn Tavenner said in a statement. “The Affordable Care Act gives people on Medicare the relief they need from medical costs and more resources to stay healthy.”
The figures, circulated to reporters, reflect the administration’s latest attempt to highlight the successes of President Obama’s signature domestic achievement. Just last week, they released data showing that an “Obamacare” insurance regulation is yielding rebates for consumers and businesses who provide employees health care.
Republicans have instead seized on cost projections and some of the law’s failures, such as the now-neutered long-term care CLASS program, to paint the law as an expensive monstrosity. The dedicated stream of attacks from the law’s opponents, and ensuing partisan shouting matches that have defined debates of the law, has painted the legislation in a negative light.
Polls say Americans continue to view “Obamacare” unfavorably on balance. With a Supreme Court decision looming on its constitutionality, the law is shaping up to be an important issue in the November elections.
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Sahil Kapur is a congressional reporter for TPM. He previously covered politics and public policy for numerous publications including The Guardian and The Huffington Post. He can be reached at sahil [at] talkingpointsmemo.com.