47 years of Medicare

This week marks 47 years since the Medicare program was created.  This vital program has helped millions of older citizens and people with disabilities across Pennsylvania meet their health care needs.  While some in Congress have proposed ending Medicare as we know it, I believe we need to strengthen and improve the program.

To that end, we have made some recent improvements including closing the so-called “donut hole.”  When Medicare was created in 1965, prescription medication did not play the role it does today in keeping older citizens healthy. In 2003 initial steps were taken to give beneficiaries greater access to prescription drugs, but left a large gap where beneficiaries would be responsible for all the costs of their drugs, the “donut hole.”  More recently Congress made improvements to that benefit to ensure the gap will be fully closed by 2020. In the meantime beneficiaries will get help.  In 2011, beneficiaries who fell into the donut hole received a $250 rebate check.  In 2012, beneficiaries who fall in the gap will get significant discounts on both brand name and generic drugs. Over 240,000 Pennsylvanians have benefitted from these changes and more people will continue to do so in the months and years ahead.

It is imperative that we continue to improve, strengthen and protect this important program.  As we celebrate this anniversary, I commit to continuing the fight to keep Medicare strong and ensure that beneficiaries have access to the services they need.