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By The Associated Press

The Kaiser Family Foundation says fewer Medicare prescription drug plan enrollees are falling into a coverage gap known as the doughnut hole in which they pay the full cost of their prescriptions.

The foundation says 19 percent of Medicare Part D beneficiaries hit that gap in 2009, the latest year for which figures are available. That compares to 26 percent in 2007. Kaiser says increased availability of cheaper generic drugs may be behind the drop.

A total of 29 million people are enrolled in a Medicare prescription drug plan. Enrollees and their drug plans share costs up to a certain amount each year. Then the enrollee pays the full cost for prescriptions before becoming eligible for catastrophic coverage, where the plan resumes paying and covers 95 percent of the bill.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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