As Efforts to Repeal ACA Continue, Report Notes Prescription Drug Benefit of Program

The Department of Health and Human Services has released information that shows that millions of seniors and people with disabilities with Medicare continue to save on prescription drugs and see improved benefits in 2016 as a result of the Affordable Care Act.

The Department of Health and Human Services has released information that shows that millions of seniors and people with disabilities with Medicare continue to save on prescription drugs and see improved benefits in 2016 as a result of the Affordable Care Act.

The report, which was discussed in a news release from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, was issued the same week that both the Senate, whose members voted just after midnight on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017, and the House of Representatives, who voted that Friday, to approve a budget resolution designed to repeal the Affordable Care Act. During a press conference that same week, President-elect Donald J. Trump noted that program would be “repealed and replaced,” echoing a popular theme throughout his campaign. Trump and other Republicans often paint the program as a "disaster," in need of replacement. A replacement plan, however, has yet to be revealed.

Meanwhile, Democrats continue to tout the benefits of the program and voice concern over the lack of a clear replacement plan.

The CMS press release detailed some of the ACA benefits, noting that more than 11.8 million Medicare beneficiaries have received discounts over $26.8 billion on prescription drugs — an average of $2,272 per beneficiary – since the enactment of the Affordable Care Act.

In 2016 alone, over 4.9 million seniors and people with disabilities received discounts of over $5.6 billion, for an average of $1,149 per beneficiary. This is an increase in savings compared to the 2015 information released this time last year, when 5.2 million Medicare beneficiaries received discounts of $5.4 billion, for an average of $1,054 per beneficiary.

Medicare beneficiaries also continue to take advantage of certain recommended preventive services with no coinsurance:

  • An estimated 40.1 million people with Medicare (including those enrolled in Medicare Advantage) took advantage of at least one preventive service with no copays or deductibles in 2016, slightly more than in 2015.
  • More than 10.3 million Medicare beneficiaries (including those enrolled in Medicare Advantage) took advantage of an Annual Wellness Visit in 2016. Looking just at original Medicare, nearly 1 million more people utilized an Annual Wellness Visit in 2016 than 2015 (more than 6.6 million compared to nearly 5.8 million).

On November 9th, 2016, the day following Donald Trump’s election victory, over 100,000 people signed up for healthcare through the federal exchange, according to a tweet that day from Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell.