March 22, 2012

Whitehouse Shares Story of Woonsocket Resident Helped by Health Law

RI Senator Spoke on Floor of U.S. Senate

Washington, DC – This week marks the two-year anniversary of the passage of the Affordable Care Act, landmark legislation to reform our health care system in ways that lower costs and expand access to insurance coverage.  U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) spoke on the floor of the Senate to commemorate the anniversary, and shared the story of a Woonsocket resident who has been helped by the law.

Whitehouse spoke about a woman named Olive, who shared the story of her husband with the Senator.  Olive’s husband takes several medications to help treat his Alzheimer’s disease, which can be very costly.

“Last year, Olive and her husband fell into the prescription drug doughnut hole in July,” Whitehouse said in his speech, referring to the gap in prescription drug coverage that affects thousands of Rhode Islanders on Medicare every year.  “Without the Affordable Care Act, they would have been responsible for paying the full cost of his medications out-of-pocket.  But because of health care reform, Olive and her husband received a discount on their prescription drugs and saved $2,400 last year.”

Prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act, the doughnut hole left thousands of seniors paying the full cost of prescription drugs after their yearly drug expenses exceeded $2,930. Drug coverage wouldn’t resume until total drug spending hit $6,657 for the year – a high threshold for seniors on low, fixed incomes. The Affordable Care Act addresses this problem through prescription drug discounts for people affected by the doughnut hole.  Those savings will continue increasing until 2020, when the Medicare Part D doughnut hole closes completely.

Nearly 15,000 Rhode Islanders received discounts in 2011 as a result of the new law, including nearly 500 Woonsocket residents.  All told, people in Woonsocket who hit the Medicare doughnut hole last year saved a total of $271,946.  A more detailed breakdown of doughnut hole savings in Woonsocket and surrounding communities can be found by using this interactive map created by Senator Whitehouse’s office.

Video of the Senator’s speech is available here.


Press Contact

Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921