Closing the Medicare Donut Hole

In 2010, as part of the Affordable Care Act, I helped lead the successful fight to end the Medicare Part D prescription drug “donut hole” which left thousands of Washington state seniors paying the total cost of their prescription drugs every year. 

According to a recent report by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, 60,209 Washington residents received almost $36 million in prescription drug discounts in 2011 alone.

On this interactive map you can click on any of the green flags to see the following information for a county:

  • People in each county who benefitted from "donut hole" fix
  • Total amount saved in the county
  • Average savings per person

The Medicare Part D prescription drug “donut hole” left thousands of seniors paying the full cost of prescription drugs after their yearly drug expenses exceeded $2,930.  Drug coverage wouldn't resume until total drug spending hit $6,657 for the year – a high threshold for seniors on low, fixed incomes.  The Affordable Care Act addresses this problem through prescription drug discounts for people affected by the “donut hole”.  Those savings will continue increasing until 2020, when the Medicare Part D “donut hole” closes completely.

In 2010, all Medicare beneficiaries who were affected by the “donut hole” received a one-time payment of $250 to help offset the cost of their prescription drugs. Last year and this year, patients receive a 50 percent discount on all brand name drugs purchased while they are in the “donut hole”.

On average, Washington state seniors who fell into the “donut hole” in 2011 saved $597 on account of this law.