Today, Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) spoke out on behalf of seniors in a letter to Congressional leadership, urging them not to raise prescription drug costs by reopening the Medicare Part D “Donut Hole,” as they consider legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Seniors across the country are currently saving an average of $1,950 each year since the Affordable Care Act began closing the donut hole–that’s 9.4 million seniors saving $15 billion on their prescription drugs, 212,000 people in New Jersey alone. But should this law be repealed without a replacement Medicare prescription drug provision, seniors’ out of pocket costs would skyrocket and many would be forced to go without needed prescription medication.
“I am deeply concerned your efforts to repeal the ACA will ultimately reopen the Part D donut hole,” said Gottheimer. “This would crush New Jersey seniors with heavy drug costs, to the tune of $2,000 more each year, and create extreme economic hardship. We must continue to build on the many benefits of Part D by committing to continuous coverage for medications. After paying into the Medicare system throughout their working lives, seniors should never be forced to worry about the future of this modest, earned benefit.”
Gottheimer has previously spoken out to express his willingness to work across the aisle to fix the Affordable Care Act while ensuring that any replacement plan addresses critical priorities like allowing those with preexisting conditions to access care and keeping prescription drug costs low for seniors.
Gottheimer’s letter to Speaker Paul Ryan and Leader Mitch McConnell is below and HERE.
Dear Speaker Ryan and Majority Leader McConnell:
I am concerned that any final legislation between the House and Senate to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would impede or rollback the closure of the ACA’s Medicare Part D prescription drug benefits gap— ultimately affecting millions of seniors on limited budgets. As you know, the ACA Medicare Part D reform closed the prescription drug coverage gap frequently referred to as the “donut hole.” This lifesaving benefit ensures millions of American seniors have the health care security they deserve. With ACA’s prescription drug reform efforts, more than 9.4 million have saved $15 billion on prescription drugs since passage.
For more than a decade, Medicare Part D has provided seniors across the country with access to affordable prescription drugs. Before Part D, seniors suffered sticker shock from sky-high drug costs and often skipped on purchasing necessary medication. Since then, the Medicare prescription drug benefit has saved countless lives with affordable drugs and reduced out-of-pocket costs. Last year, 71 percent of Medicare beneficiaries – over 40 million Americans – benefitted from Part D. Despite this, many of the early Part D drug plans suffered from a critical gap in benefits that required seniors to pay 100 percent for drugs costs between $2,800 and $4,550 of annual total spending. When seniors fell into this gap, they were often forced to make an impossible choice between filling their prescriptions or buying groceries— burdens seniors should not have to bear again.
Thanks to the ACA, the Part D donut hole is nearly closed and will be completely closed by 2020. This means that seniors across the country are now saving an average of $1,950 per year on drugs. This reform lifts seniors out of economic uncertainty and saves countless lives by increasing drug availability. Eliminating the donut hole also improves compliance and health outcomes among seniors, ultimately leading to lower spending on expensive acute care.
I am deeply concerned your efforts to repeal the ACA will ultimately reopen the Part D donut hole. This would crush seniors with heavy drug costs and extreme economic hardship. We must continue to build on the many benefits of Part D by committing to continuous coverage for medications. After paying into the Medicare system throughout their working lives, seniors should never be forced to worry about the future of this modest, earned benefit.
We cannot allow millions of seniors to fall into the donut hole again. I strongly urge you to continue to close the Medicare Part D coverage gap to guarantee seniors’ access to affordable lifesaving medications. I will not support any House or Senate legislation that reduces or eliminates this important benefit.
MEMBER OF CONGRESS