A new study demonstrates that the Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan reduces hospital and nursing home admissions, resulting in an approximate healthcare savings of $12 billion. Study authors examined non-drug costs before the Part D program was introduced in 2006 to current non-drug spending in order to estimate savings. Medicare Part D reduces nursing home admissions

Medicare Part D helps seniors live longer, healthier lives by providing more affordable access to preventative medications, such as cholesterol and diabetes drugs. Before Part D made its debut in 2006, many seniors would skip doses or opt not to get their prescriptions filled at all--simply because they couldn't afford the costs.

That said, Medicare Part D has been a point of debate since its inception. The biggest problem is known as the "donut-hole," a coverage gap that requires seniors hitting a certain threshold to pay 100% of prescription drug costs out-of-pocket until they reach the next threshold level. Numerous alternatives have been presented and even implemented in an attempt to reduce or avoid the donut hole, but with the country's current financial and political woes, it's hard to say what changes we'll see to Part D in the next few years.

For now, the benefit is clear: Providing seniors with the means to obtain affordable preventative medications avoids admissions to nursing homes and hospitals, which are more costly services to the Medicare program. The study appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association, and according to MainStreet.com, it's a direct retort at critics who say the Medicare Part D program is too costly for the U.S. Detractors say that because Medicare Part D led to an increased use of prescription medications, it ended up costing the government more money.

Right now, it appears that Medicare Part D isn't on the chopping block in the budget debate. But as talks continue, only August 2nd will bring answers to those wanting to know if their Medicare benefits will remain intact.

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