KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

HHS: Health Law Changes To Medicare Drug Program Saved Seniors $5B

The administration announces that almost 2.8 million people have saved an average $677, because the law is closing the prescription drug doughnut hole.

USA Today: Medicare Beneficiaries Reach $5 Billion In Drug Savings
Since passage of the health care overhaul two years ago, 5.8 million Medicare patients have saved $5 billion from prescription drug discounts, and the government can now predict lower health care costs based on increased use of these cheaper drugs (Kennedy, 12/3).

The Hill: HHS: Obama Health Law Saved Seniors $5B On Prescription Drug Costs
The Obama administration on Monday touted the healthcare law for saving people on Medicare $5.1 billion on prescription drugs. The Health and Human Services (HHS) Department said almost 2.8 million people have saved an average of $677 on their medications so far this year. The release coincided with the final week of Medicare Open Enrollment — a period that ends Friday (Viebeck, 12/3).

Meanwhile, the nonpartisan CBO has released a study looking at the link between prescription costs and other medical services.

Medpage Today: More Rx Drug Use Tied To Lower Health Costs
A 1 percent increase in the number of prescriptions filled causes Medicare spending to drop by roughly 0.2 percent, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has estimated. ... a growing body of published evidence shows a link between changes in prescription drug use and spending for medical services, the CBO said in the report, which was published late last week. The new calculation may have a slight impact on negotiations now going on in Washington to avert the "fiscal cliff" -- the combination of tax increases and spending cuts due to become effective Jan. 1 if nothing is done. The CBO's mission is to calculate the potential savings generated by proposed legislation, including the bills now being discussed by Washington budget hawks (Pittman, 12/3).

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