CLEVELAND, OH - U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced at a press conference today that Ohio seniors receiving Medicare can now receive free preventive health screenings with no co-payments or deductibles. As part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) – the new health reform law –Medicare beneficiaries will also receive free annual wellness check-ups and 50 percent discounts on brand-name drugs and biologics in the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap, also known as the “donut hole.”

“I have heard from so many Ohio seniors struggling with rising health care and prescription drug costs – seniors who are cutting pills in half, or skipping doses altogether, because prices are simply unaffordable.  Ohio seniors shouldn’t have to worry about how they’re going to afford doctor visits on top of prescription drug costs, and this bill works to ensure that they don’t have to,” Brown said. “These new Medicare benefits will remove financial barriers to care and enable Ohio seniors enrolled in Medicare to receive free annual wellness checkups and preventive screenings, and this new law will help alleviate the expensive costs seniors must endure when they enter the ‘donut hole.’

According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), approximately 1,800,000 Ohio seniors will be eligible in 2011 for free preventive services and free annual wellness check-ups as a result of the new health reform law. Below are some of the preventive services that will be free for Medicare beneficiaries beginning Jan 2011:

  • Screening for colorectal cancer in adults, beginning at age 50 years and continuing until age 75 years
  • Osteoporosis screening for women aged 65 and older
  • Mammography screening for women every 1-2 years for women aged 40 and older

Nearly 100,000 Ohio seniors entered the “donut hole”—a gap in prescription drug coverage in the Medicare Part D program—last year. In 2010, seniors who entered the “donut hole” received $250 rebate checks to assist with the prescription drug costs.  Beginning in Jan 2011, the new health care law will provide Medicare beneficiaries with 50 percent discounts on brand-name drugs and biologics in the “donut hole.”  Discounts will increase every year until 2020, when the “donut hole” will be closed altogether.