Progressives apparently aren't pleased with the Biden administration's recent announcement of how 2022 Medicare premiums will keep rising, despite the lower-than-expected cost of a new Alzheimer's medication.
According to The Hill, the current Medicare premiums have a range of $170.70 to $578.30 in 2022, based on income and tax-filing status.
This year's premium hike of $21.60 represents the largest in the history of the Medicare program.
According to The Commonwealth Fund — which promotes a high-performing healthcare system that achieves better access, improved quality, and greater efficiency — "Medicare beneficiaries will be responsible for 20% of the total cost. If the average sales price is $28,200 per year per patient, then the average Medicare beneficiary would pay about $5,640 per year."
One reason for the premium price boost: The government reportedly needed extra coverage for Aduhelm — the first Alzheimer's medication to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 20 years — likely hitting the marketplace.
Aduhelm, the creation of U.S. biotech company Biogen, initially had an annual cost of $56,000 before the company halved that price.
Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said that Medicare premiums will fall in 2023; but now, nothing can be done about the 2022 pricing.
HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra says reducing the 2022 premiums isn't "feasible," given how the agency has to adhere to certain "legal and operational hurdles."
Either way, the HHS' response hasn't been swift enough to appease progressives.
Alex Lawson, executive director for Social Security Works, called the Biden administration's rationale for delaying the premiums reduction until 2023 "bogus."
Faiz Shakir, an adviser to Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has already called on the Biden administration to send out rebate checks to Medicare recipients, while fellow Sanders staffer Warren Gunnels tweeted: "Imagine being able to put more money in the pockets of senior citizens who are struggling to put food on the table right now and doing nothing instead. This is how you blow a slam dunk."
Lawson echoed Shakir's comment: "We know for a fact that Treasury can get checks out to people extremely quickly. So the idea that it's too complex, we reject."
It remains to be seen how effective Aduhelm will be in its first incarnation.
Multiple members of the FDA's advisory panel resigned last year after Aduhelm's approval, citing "lack of clear evidence that it actually works for Alzheimer's patients."
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