Medicare urges to show its power and cut premiums
The head of the Senate panel overseeing health insurance said that the Biden administration should use its legal power to reduce the huge premium increase that will affect millions of enrollees, as more and more Democratic lawmakers are worried about rising inflation. The next call for action.
Last month, Medicare announced one of the largest increases in monthly premiums for its “Part B” outpatient care, nearly $22, from the current $148.50 to $170.10 starting in January.
The agency attributed about half of the interest rate hike (approximately US$11 per month) to the need for emergency funds to pay for Aduhelm, a new US$56,000 Alzheimer’s drug from Biogen, whose benefits Was widely questioned. For most Medicare participants, insurance premiums will be deducted from their Social Security checks. If no further action is taken, it will devour a large part of the 5.9% increase in the cost of living of the elderly.
“Instead of assessing the current $21.60 per month…a full increase in premiums, I urge you to reduce the amount,” wrote Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden and D-Ore. Secretary of Health Xavier Becerra. “Using this method will reduce the recent expenses of fixed-income seniors.” A copy of this letter was provided to the Associated Press on Monday.
The authorities did not immediately respond.
But Wyden wrote to Becerra that as Minister of Health and Human Services, he has “broad power” to determine the “appropriate contingency deposit” used to set premiums.
Given that Medicare is still developing a formal policy covering Aduhelm, Wyden stated that there are clear reasons for reducing the pre-charged fees at this specific time.
He wrote: “Aduhelm’s coverage of any recent medical insurance may be limited and narrow.” Wyden pointed out that the “uncertainty” of the drug’s financial impact on medical insurance seems to have driven the calculation of new premiums to a large extent.
Soon after the increase in health insurance was announced last month, independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont called on the government to cancel. Wyden also said that he has concerns and is exploring various options. Last week, Democratic Senator Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, Jackie Rosen of Nevada, Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, Mark Kelly of Arizona and Jack Lee of Rhode Island De wrote to President Joe Biden, “We must solve this problem as soon as possible.”
Some groups representing the elderly expect that if no measures are taken, medical insurance recipients will strongly object.
“Once the Part B premiums in 2022 start to be deducted from their social security benefits, I think Congress will really get involved,” said Mary Johnson, an analyst at the Non-Party Senior Citizens Coalition, which advocates retaining benefits for retirees.
The US Department of Labor reported on Friday that consumer prices have risen by 6.8% in the past year, which is the largest increase in inflation in the past four years. The prices of basic necessities, from food and energy costs to housing, are fundamental. For Democrats entering the 2022 midterm elections, inflation concerns have increased political uncertainty.
Biden’s social agenda legislation will take major actions to reduce the cost of medicines for medical insurance recipients. But even if the bill is approved, medical insurance will have to wait several years before negotiating the price of new drugs such as Aduhelm. Other regulations that can reduce costs more quickly will not take effect in a few years. The rise in medical insurance premiums will be the first to be hit.
Advocacy group analyst Johnson said that senior citizens “believe that young working families have received most of the benefits from recent legislation and will continue to do so under the Better Rebuild Act.”
Often, the financial impact of high-cost drugs falls most directly on patients with serious diseases such as cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, or multiple sclerosis. But with Aduhelm, financial pain will spread among health insurance recipients, not just Alzheimer’s patients who need this drug.
This question has become a case study of how an expensive drug affects government spending and affects household budgets. People who do not have Alzheimer’s disease will not be exempt from Aduhelm’s cost because it is enough to affect their insurance premiums.
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurological disease that currently has no cure. It affects approximately 6 million Americans, most of whom are old enough to qualify for health insurance.
Aduhelm is the first Alzheimer’s disease drug in nearly 20 years. It cannot cure this life-affecting disease, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has determined that its ability to reduce plaque in the brain may slow dementia. However, many experts stated that their benefits have not been clearly proven.
Medicare is currently underwriting Aduhelm on a case-by-case basis, waiting for a formal evaluation that may take several months.
The pharmaceutical company Biogen stated that it has set a fair price for Aduhelm after taking into account payments for other innovative drugs for refractory diseases.