CMS: Obama health law has saved seniors $3.4 billion on prescription drugs

Seniors have saved $3.4 billion on prescription drugs because of President Obama’s healthcare law, the Medicare agency said Monday.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) said seniors saved an average of $837 in the first three months of this year.

CMS said more than 5 million seniors have benefited from the law’s drug discounts — a provision that Democrats often highlight as they try to build public support for a law that remains stuck at about 50 percent approval.

The Affordable Care Act seeks to close the so-called Medicare “doughnut hole” — a coverage gap in which seniors traditionally had to cover all of their prescription drug costs. Under the new law, seniors who reach the doughnut hole now receive a 50 percent discount on brand-name drugs and a 7 percent discount on generics.

The discounts were part of an agreement between Democrats and the pharmaceutical industry, which agreed to accept lower prices and also pay a modest excise tax.

In addition to the discounts, CMS said, seniors in the doughnut hole are saving money by using more generic drugs.