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doctorWe’ve heard a lot about the Affordable Care Act, good and bad, but how does it affect seniors in Tuscaloosa, Alabama?

More than 8 million seniors in 2007 hit the “doughnut hole”, which is the gap in prescription drug coverage in Medicare Part D. Today, beneficiaries who hit the doughnut hole receive a $250 rebate and the Act institutes a 50 percent discount on brand name drugs in the doughnut hole. “Obamacare,” as some people have named it, was designed to completely close the doughnut hole for all prescription drugs by 2020.

Medicare beneficiaries have received many benefits from the health care law, but they do not need coverage in the marketplace established by the act in order to have their doctor visits covered. That part of it was created for those not covered by Medicare who wanted private insurance companies to offer more competitive options and prevent low income families from seeking treatment in emergency rooms rather than preventive care.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley did not set up a state health care exchange and declined to expand Medicaid under the federal healthcare overhaul.

The ACA aims to strengthen Medicare by investing in fighting waste and abuse in such a way that it extends the life of the program by 9 years. The act cracked down on Medicare fraud, which cost the federal government as much as $60 billion a year, and reduced what was paid to the Medicare Advantage programs offered by private insurance companies.

In the first 11 months of 2013, 42,778 participated in annual wellness screenings.

The law also created incentives for health plans that improve enrollee satisfaction and the quality of care provided (better care rather than simply more care).

These are just a few of the ways the ACA impacts seniors in Tuscaloosa.