Ben Cardin - Senator for Maryland

REPEALING HEALTH CARE REFORM WOULD HURT MARYLAND SENIORS AND RAISE COSTS FOR ALL

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Dear Friends:

As the 112th Congress gets underway, there are efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, a move that would have a devastating effect on seniors, harm the solvency of Medicare and eliminate consumer protections that are important to Maryland families.

Starting on January 1, seniors who fall in the Medicare Part D prescription drug gap or "donut hole," will receive a 50% discount on all brand-name medications. Also starting on January 1, the new law eliminates all co-payments for Medicare preventive services and it provides for free annual wellness checkups for seniors with no co-pays or deductibles, provisions that I fought to have included in the health care reform law.

These are important new benefits that will significantly reduce costs by keeping seniors healthy. An average Medicare beneficiary will save approximately $3,500 over the next 10 years, and beneficiaries with high drug costs will save as much as $12,300 over the next decade.

Maryland seniors have already substantially benefited from the new health care law. Just last year, more than 32,000 of our seniors received a one-time, tax-free $250 rebate to help them pay for their medicines once they hit the prescription drug donut hole. Between 2011 and 2020, more than 44,000 Maryland seniors who reach this gap in coverage will realize an estimated savings of more than $400 million. The Medicare prescription drug gap will be totally eliminated by 2020 under the health reform law, as long as the law is not rolled back.

A repeal of the Affordable Care Act would adversely affect our federal budget deficit and jeopardize the future finances of the Medicare program. The Congressional Budget Office recently estimated that a roll-back of the law would increase the deficit by $230 billion by 2021. At the same time, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has estimated that the new health care law extends the solvency of Medicare by another 10 years.

The Affordable Care Act also provides American families with important and popular consumer protections such as prohibiting insurance companies from dropping your coverage when you get sick, blocking coverage due to so-called pre-existing conditions, ending lifetime limits on coverage, and allowing children to stay on their parents' health care coverage until age 26. These are benefits that Americans care about and do not want to lose.

I am committed to fighting any efforts to roll back or defund health care reform. From a public policy perspective, the Republican effort to do so is irresponsible, particularly since they have not come up with an alternative proposal that would provide Americans with much-needed consumer protections, expand access to care or lower overall health care costs. Repeal would be a step backward that our nation can ill afford to take.

Best Wishes.

Ben

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