3 million received prescription drug relief under PPACA to date

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Three million Medicare beneficiaries nationwide have received prescription drug cost relief through the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (PPACA), according to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Those beneficiaries, who fell into the drug coverage gap in 2010, have been mailed a one-time, tax-free $250 rebate check.

Eligible beneficiaries who fell into the coverage gap during 2010 are continuing to automatically receive rebate checks, according to HHS. Starting this year, eligible beneficiaries in the coverage gap will receive a 50 percent discount on covered brand-name medications. In addition, in 2011, Medicare will begin paying 7 percent of the price for generic drugs during the coverage gap.

The law also provides benefits to Medicare beneficiaries when they visit their doctor starting this year:

  • As of January 1, original Medicare no longer charges out-of-pocket costs for the “Welcome to Medicare” physical exam and, for the first time since the Medicare program was created in 1965, it now covers an annual wellness visit with a participating doctor, also at no cost.
  • Most people with Medicare can now receive critical preventive services, including certain cancer screenings such as mammograms and colonoscopies, for free.
  • PPACA will provide a 10 percent bonus for primary care services to qualifying doctors and other healthcare professionals who deliver primary care to people on Medicare.