Next week, Georgia’s seniors will receive a $250 rebate check from the federal government to pay for some lifesaving medications if they fall within the Medicare Part D coverage gap known as the “donut hole.” That $250 check is the beginning of the end for the donut hole – and was made possible by the Affordable Care Act.
Known to many simply as health reform, the Affordable Care Act will gradually close the Medicare donut hole, ensuring all of America’s seniors are able to afford the medicines they need to stay healthy.
That will be a major step forward for the 8 million seniors who fell through that hole in 2007 – forcing many to forgo either their medications or other essentials.
Beginning next year, the government will take an even bigger leap toward eliminating the necessity of such choices. Starting in 2011, seniors will receive a 50 percent discount on drugs falling within the hole, and by 2020, the donut hole will be eliminated entirely.
However, while the end of the Medicare donut hole is perhaps the most visible benefit of health reform for America’s seniors, the new law contains a number of other significant benefits for Georgia’s oldest residents.
For example, while seniors today must pay for preventative care, health reform eliminates co-pays, deductibles, and other costs for preventative care and provides for free annual wellness check-ups starting next year – ensuring that every Georgia senior has the care they need to better maintain their health.
In addition, health reform will promote better coordination across health providers to ensure seniors receive the best care possible for chronic conditions and after hospital stays – preventing readmission and improving overall health. And it includes incentives for better care, better treatment, and better patient outcomes for seniors across the health system.
The Affordable Care Act will also better protect against elder abuse and neglect, and provide for better nursing home quality—all improvements that will help Georgia’s seniors remain healthy and active well into their golden years. And all this while strengthening Medicare, reducing unnecessary subsidies to insurance companies, and protecting against fraud and scams.
Those changes come on top of significant reforms that will improve health care not only for seniors, but for Americans of every age – ending the worst practices of the health insurance industry and making care more affordable and more accessible. Democrats fought for those reforms, and now they’re fighting to ensure change happens as quickly as possible for American workers and families.
In that context, $250 for America’s seniors is just the beginning – look for more changes soon that will help all Georgia seniors and families get the care they need.
Kidd is chairman of the Democratic party of Georgia.