(Washington D.C.) - After seniors battled months of confusing and inaccurate enrollment information surrounding the Medicare Prescription Drug program, Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee, led by senior members including U.S. Rep. Sander Levin (D-Royal Oak), today released a Congressional Report that found that 91% of newly enrolled Medicare Part D beneficiaries in Michigan are at risk of falling into the "doughnut-hole," the part of the program that contains a gap in coverage where beneficiaries continue to pay premiums without receiving financial coverage for medicines. Michigan's percentage is above the already high national average of 88%. The report also concluded that only 7% of new enrollees -- 1% of Michigan's total Medicare population -- gained full, uninterrupted coverage through the new law.
"Thousands of Michiganders around the state are now facing a real hole in their prescription drug coverage," said U.S. Rep. Levin. "Unfortunately for seniors, Republicans are trying to cover up the hole they created instead of working with Democrats to fill it in."
The Michigan Doughnut-Hole Report:
- An alarming 91 percent - 194,070 - of Medicare Prescription Drug plan enrollees* in Michigan are enrolled in prescription drug plans that contain a doughnut-hole, or gap in coverage;
- Only 1 percent of all Michigan Medicare beneficiaries (7% of new enrollees*) - 14,601 - are enrolled in plans with full, uninterrupted coverage;
- Of the 40 plans available in Michigan, 85 percent - 34 plans - have a gap in coverage;
- Michiganders enrolled in full coverage plans, without a gap in coverage, have to pay 2.4 times more in premiums than those in plans that have a gap;
- The average annual premium for a full coverage plan is $781.80.
"The doughnut-hole will become a real surprise for nearly 200,000 Michiganders who are at risk of falling into the gap. Seniors need a prescription drug program that will make it easier and more affordable for them to get the medicines they need. That is why the drug program should allow Medicare to negotiate prices directly with the drug companies - something the program doesn't allow now - and we should use those savings to fill in the doughnut-hole before any more seniors hit it."
As seniors either prepare to fall or already have fallen into the doughnut-hole, Democrats have offered an alternative plan to fix the new Prescription Drug program. In the Democratic Prescription for Change, House Democrats have proposed making the Medicare drug benefit simple, affordable, and reliable for senior citizens and people with disabilities. Under the proposal, Medicare would be required to use its bargaining power to negotiate lower drug prices, and the savings would be used to fill the doughnut hole. The Democratic plan would also waive the late enrollment penalty for millions of beneficiaries who are now locked out of coverage until 2007, and simplify the program by creating a Medicare-sponsored option.
*Percentages are of Medicare beneficiaries that are not eligible for low-income subsidies through Medicare or Medicaid when they enter the gap in coverage.
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