Statement from Secretary Sebelius on Older Americans Month
In May, we recognize Older Americans Month -- a tradition dating back to 1963 to honor the many contributions of our nation’s older citizens. This year's theme “Never Too Old to Play” encourages older Americans to stay active in their own lives and in their communities. Older Americans are living longer and are more active than ever before. With the aging of the baby boomer generation – the largest in America’s history – our senior population is expected to number 72.1 million by 2030. This increase will present all of us with tremendous opportunities, as well as, new challenges.
Keeping our nation’s older citizens and their families healthy is a top priority of the Obama administration. At the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), we are working to expand access to affordable, high-quality health care. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, more than 5 million people with Medicare saved an average of $635 on the cost of their prescription drugs in 2010 and 2011. Individuals with Medicare prescription drug coverage who had to pay for drugs in the “donut hole” coverage gap received a one-time, tax free $250 rebate from Medicare for prescriptions and a 50 percent discount on many brand-name medications. The donut hole will be closed by 2020 as a result of the health care law.
We know that preventing disease before it starts helps people live longer, healthier lives. The new health care law is giving older Americans greater control over their own health by providing many free preventive services in Medicare such as flu shots, mammograms, and an annual wellness visit so seniors can spend more time with their doctors. In 2011, more than 32.5 million seniors took advantage of one or more preventive services covered without cost-sharing.
Through the Affordable Care Act and other efforts underway at HHS, we are working hard to ensure that older Americans of today and tomorrow are able to age healthy in their homes and communities.
To learn more about Older Americans Month visit http://www.aoa.gov/AoARoot/Press_Room/Observances/2012/Older_Americans.aspx.
For more information about the Affordable Care Act and seniors visit http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/uploads/careact.pdf.
To see videos about seniors and the Affordable Care Act visit http://www.healthcare.gov/videos/2010/06/seniors.html.