aARP Florida issued the following statement today after President Trump signed into law a multi-faceted bipartisan budget reconciliation bill that, among many other features, closes the Medicare Part D prescription drug plan “donut hole.” A year early The bill also avoids costly caps on Medicare payments for some kinds of medical therapies.
“Floridians 65-plus, especially Medicare beneficiaries with high prescription drug costs, will be helped by some provisions of the new budget reconciliation package,,” said Jack McRay, AARP Florida advocacy manager. “We are pleased to see that the Medicare Part D ‘donut’ hole’ will close one year early, in 2019, thanks to provisions urged by Sen. Bill Nelson.”

Under the budget reconciliation law, the Medicare Part D program will cover 75 percent of covered prescription drug costs of plan participants. While Medicare beneficiaries aren’t required to buy a Part D coverage plan, most of the state’s 4 million –plus Medicare beneficiaries use the plans to help cover the rising costs of prescription drugs.
Under prior law, Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage included a coverage gap, or “donut hole,” that left beneficiaries with higher prescription drug costs once those costs exceeded $3,750 a year in 2018.

Under the new budget law, starting in 2019, Part D plans will cover 75 percent of covered drug costs, with no coverage gap. Sen. Nelson called the legislation a “win-win for seniors and taxpayers” in a news release issued before the budget law was enacted.

McRay also said AARP “applauds the provision that adds biosimilar drugs to the Medicare Part D Coverage Gap Discount Program.” “This change will lower out-of-pocket costs and encourage the development and use of these drugs,” McRay said..

In addition, AARP said it was pleased that the budget reconciliation law eliminates a Medicare policy that imposed crippling coverage caps on physical therapy, speech-language pathology and occupational therapy services delivered after Medicare beneficiaries suffer a serious illnesses or complications.