Lawmakers look to eliminate Medicare Part D gap earlier than planned

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Lawmakers are stepping up efforts to close the Medicare Part D doughnut hole, a coverage gap in the prescription drug program for seniors. Political pressure may be driving them to change their timetable.

Seniors who fall into the doughnut beginning Jan. 1, 2010, will receive a 50% discount on brand-name drugs, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said recently. Also, the size of the gap will be cut by $500 under the revamped House healthcare reform bill. The hole should be closed by 2019, Pelosi said. The Medicare Part D plan covers seniors' prescription drugs up to $2,700 per year. Individuals are then responsible for coverage until drug costs exceed $6,100 per year.

The original House plan called for discounts to begin in 2011, and the hole to be closed within 15 years. Democrats are hoping to have a solid healthcare accomplishment to show the public before the 2010 mid-term elections, Politico.com reported.


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