HHS: Seniors using new reform law benefit

More than 150,000 seniors in the past two months have received a free annual wellness visit, one of the healthcare reform law’s benefits that administration officials and Democrats have been eager to tout.

As of Jan. 1, Medicare beneficiaries are no longer on the hook for a deductible, co-insurance or co-payment for many of the program’s preventive services, including annual wellness visits.

A new Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) report, stressing the savings for seniors, said an annual wellness visit and follow-up visit can cost more than $160 and $105, respectively.

The report comes a week before the one-year anniversary of the law’s enactment, providing supporters and opponents a high-profile opportunity to again make their case. Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee invited HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to testify about the law’s benefits on Wednesday, while the panel’s Republican members will hold a press conference afterward to blast the law.