AP: The Affordable Care Act Shrinks The "Doughnut Hole" By 40 Percent

November 28, 2011 11:01 am ET — Salvatore Colleluori

Gearing up for the 2012 elections, Republicans have continually lied about President Obama's signature piece of legislation, the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Specifically, Republicans have attempted to portray the law as an attack on our seniors, pushing the idea that the ACA "raids" Medicare and that death panels will decide seniors' fates. While these lies have been thoroughly debunked, some positive news regarding how the Affordable Care Act helps seniors was released over the weekend. Due to the law, Medicare's doughnut hole is shrinking, saving seniors hundreds of dollars a year. According to the Associated Press:

Medicare's prescription coverage gap is getting noticeably smaller and easier to manage this year for millions of older and disabled people with high drug costs.

The "doughnut hole," an anxiety-inducing catch in an otherwise popular benefit, will shrink about 40 percent for those unlucky enough to land in it, according to new Medicare figures provided in response to a request from The Associated Press.

The average beneficiary who falls into the coverage gap would have spent $1,504 this year on prescriptions. But thanks to discounts and other provisions in President Barack Obama's health care overhaul law, that cost fell to $901, according to Medicare's Office of the Actuary, which handles economic estimates.

A 50 percent discount that the law secured from pharmaceutical companies on brand name drugs yielded an average savings of $581. Medicare also picked up more of the cost of generic drugs, saving an additional $22.

Ironically, although Republicans continue to attack Obama and congressional Democrats over legislation that is already helping seniors, all but four House Republicans voted for Paul Ryan's (R-WI) budget plan, which would dismantle Medicare and replace it with a voucher system that would force seniors to pay more for their care.