Rep. King Dismisses Affordable Care Act’s Closing Of the Medicare Donut Hole: ‘It Isn’t A Significant Piece Of Policy’

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) dismissed a key accomplishment in the Affordable Care Act – elimination of the Medicare donut hole – today, calling it “a minor part of this whole picture” and not “a significant piece of policy.”

King made the comments to ThinkProgress following a Republican press conference on Capitol Hill today. The Iowa congressman joined several Republican colleagues to renew their call for repealing the landmark health reform law “by the roots,” as King often says, including its provisions to close the Medicare Part D coverage gap, also known as the “donut hole.

ThinkProgress asked King about what would happen to the millions of young people and seniors who are already enjoying the Affordable Care Act’s successes. King ridiculed the notion out of hand, saying, “I can’t imagine there being any seniors who have seen any benefits of Obamacare.” When we pointed out that millions would benefit from closing the donut hole, King was dismissive: “That’s such a minor part of this whole picture.” He said the provision was a “talking point for the Obama administration” rather than “a significant piece of policy.”

KEYES: What do you make of the millions of young people and seniors who are seeing some of the benefits already and would have those obviously stripped away if the bill were to be repealed?

KING: I can’t imagine there being any seniors who have seen any benefits of Obamacare.

KEYES: I guess in terms of the donut hole being closed.

KING: That’s such a minor part of this whole picture. I’ve had no constituents come to me and say, “it’s so good that the donut hole is closed.” I haven’t heard that subject even brought up in six months. That is a talking point for the Obama administration but it isn’t a significant piece of policy.

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In fact, closing the donut hole is a key part of making health care affordable for seniors. Before health reform was passed, Medicare only covered prescription drug costs between $0-$2,700 and anything over $6,154. However, seniors were forced to pay for the entire cost of their prescription drugs between $2,700 and $6,154 with no Medicare coverage, presenting a major hardship for many older Americans.

The Affordable Care Act will phase out that donut hole over the following decade, allowing millions of seniors to afford the care they need. The benefits are already apparent; new data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services shows that “nearly 1.3 million people have received a 50 percent discount on their brand name prescription drugs when they hit the donut hole, saving a total of $660 million so far this year.”