WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) today praised the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) announcement that during 2011 the Affordable Care Act (ACA) helped approximately 32.5 million Medicare beneficiaries receive one or more preventive benefits free of charge. The HHS also announced that during the first six months of 2012, more than 16 million seniors nationwide – 346,441 seniors in Maryland — have received at least one free preventive service.
Senator Cardin, who authored the first package of preventive benefits in Medicare and championed the inclusion of free preventive benefits and an annual wellness exam in the 2010 health reform law, called the “ACA a tremendous success because it’s helping save lives and improve the overall health of seniors and persons with disabilities on Medicare.”
Prior to 2011, Medicare beneficiaries faced cost-sharing for many preventive benefits such as cancer screenings. Through the ACA, preventive benefits are offered free of charge to beneficiaries with no deductible or co-pay so that cost is no longer a barrier for seniors who want to stay healthy and detect and receive treatment for diseases early.
The ACA also added an important new service for people with Medicare – an Annual Wellness Visit with the doctor of their choice, with no cost to beneficiaries. Today’s announcement noted that 1.35 million people nationwide received a free Annual Wellness Visit in the first half of 2012. In Maryland, more than 25,000 Marylanders have taken advantage of the free Annual Wellness Visit.
“I couldn’t be more pleased with today’s announcement,” said Senator Cardin. “It shows that the ACA is doing what it was intended to do — providing millions of Americans with access to important preventive care services that will help them stay healthy and avoid more serious medical complications.”
Below is a list of preventive services that are included in the ACA:
- Bone mass measurement
- Cervical cancer screening, including Pap smear tests and pelvic exams
- Cholesterol and other cardiovascular screenings
- Colorectal cancer screening
- Diabetes screening
- Flu shot, pneumonia shot, and the hepatitis B shot
- HIV screening for people at increased risk or who ask for the test
- Medical nutrition therapy to help people manage diabetes or kidney disease
- Prostate cancer screening