(10/15/2014)
Medicare enrollment starts Wednesday By Lydia Nuzum for the Charleston Gazette

Open enrollment in Medicare begins Wednesday, and the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act means there are a few changes in store for seniors enrolled in the 48-year-old program.

One of the largest changes, known as the "donut hole" provision, has saved more than 39,000 West Virginia seniors upwards of $40 million in the last year, according to Perry Bryant, director of West Virginians for Affordable Health Care.

The provision, created to close the "donut hole" in Medicare coverage, was first enacted in 2010 and is designed to close the coverage gap for those who had previously paid the full price for prescription drugs. It provides added discounts each year to those covered who had previously paid out-of-pocket for prescriptions before their catastrophic coverage took effect.

The program has saved 8.2 million seniors $11.5 billion nationwide between 2010 and July of 2014, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

"That's just a huge change. We're still not all the way to closing the donut hole, but we're a huge step in the right direction," Bryant said. "One of the things about this reform that most people don't realize is that the vast majority of the money closing the donut hole comes from brand-name drug manufacturers it doesn't come from the taxpayers, it doesn't come from other Medicare beneficiaries it comes from Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline and other pharmaceutical companies."

READ MORE Medicare enrollment starts Wednesday By Lydia Nuzum for the Charleston Gazette

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