• Offering Prescription Drug Discounts. Seniors who reach the coverage gap, or "donut hole", will receive a 50% discount when buying Medicare Part D covered brand-name prescription drugs. Additional savings will be implemented over ten years until the gap is closed. Effective January 1, 2011. 
  • Providing Free Preventive Care for Seniors. The law provides certain free preventive services, such as annual wellness visits and personalized prevention plans for seniors on Medicare.  Effective January 1, 2011. 
  • Improving Health Care Quality and Efficiency.  The law establishes a new Center of Medicare & Medicaid Innovation that will begin testing new ways of providing care to patients. These methods will improve the quality of care and reduce the cost for Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Additionally, by January 1, 2011, HHS will submit a national strategy for quality improvement in health care, including by these programs. Effective no later than January 1, 2011.
  • Improving Care for Seniors After They Leave the Hospital. The Community Care Transitions Program will help high risk Medicare beneficiaries who are hospitalized avoid unnecessary readmissions by coordinating care and connecting patients to services in their communities. Effective January 1, 2011.
  • Introducing New Innovations to Bring Down Costs. The Independent Payment Advisory Board will begin operations to develop and submit proposals to Congress and the President aimed at extending the life of the Medicare Trust Fund.  They will focus on ways to target waste, reduce costs, improve health outcomes, and expand access to high-quality care. Administrative funding becomes available October 1, 2011. 
  • Increasing Access to Services at Home and in the Community. The Community First Choice Option allows states to offer home and community based services to disabled individuals through Medicaid rather than institutional care in nursing homes. Effective beginning October 1, 2011.
  • Bringing Down Health Care Premiums. The law generally requires that at least 85% of all premium dollars collected by insurance companies for large employer plans be spent on health care services and health care quality improvement, and for plans to individuals and small employers, that number is at least 80% of the premium. If insurance companies do not meet these goals, because their administrative costs or profits are too high, they must provide rebates to consumers. Effective January 1, 2011.
  • Addressing Overpayments to Big Insurance Companies and Strengthening Medicare Advantage. The law levels the playing field between traditional Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans benefits. People enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan will still receive all guaranteed Medicare benefits, and the law provides bonus payments to Medicare Advantage plans that provide high quality care. Effective January 1, 2011.

Affordable Care Act Timeline