Today, the White House held a townhall on seniors' health. Caregivers, practitioners and other supporters, including HHS Secretary Sebelius, came together for a dialogue on the benefits of the healthcare law for seniors.
As a nurse who provides care to seniors at a community-based clinic, I can tell you what a tremendous impact the healthcare law has had on my patients. Before the law the patients I saw rationed medicine and struggled with out-of-pocket expenses. Those without insurance came in for medical care after suffering a stroke and heart attack; and their quality of life was negatively impacted.
I tell my patients that donuts are not good for them and neither are the holes. In 2010, millions of seniors who fell into the Part D "donut hole" coverage gap got a $250 check in the mail. Beginning last year, seniors receive a 50% discount on their prescriptions once they hit the coverage gap.
In the past two years alone, this crucial piece of the law has reduced medication costs for 3.6 million people by $2.1 billion. Eventually, under the Affordable Care Act, the "donut and the hole" will go away - saving people thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket prescription drug costs. This law has helped me keep my patients on the right medications in the prescribed dosage for the duration of the time they require it to improve their health outcomes.
The law also provides Medicare beneficiaries with free preventive benefits, including an annual wellness checkup and screenings for bone density, diabetes and certain cancers. Free preventive care means people will have their health problems detected and treated sooner than ever before, bringing down costs for everyone.
There are 32.5 million Medicare recipients who have utilized these services and I can tell you how much the health and well-being of the seniors in my community have improved by being able to afford and access wellness programs. We have many more treatment options when we catch diabetes early or a cancer at stage one, not stage four.
As we await the Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act, I hear the extremist Republicans threatening to repeal the law at every turn. What I don't hear these politicians address is a comprehensive vision for the health and wellbeing of seniors, women and children in this country. As a nurse, I fought for decades to get care for my patients and I will continue to fight to protect the healthcare law and to ensure quality, affordable, accessible healthcare for all.