Sen. Sanders Asks President to Reduce Medicare Premium Hike

Sen. Sanders Asks President to Reduce Medicare Premium Hike

According to Bloomberg News, “Sen. Bernie Sanders is asking the White House to cut back a big Medicare premium hike set to take effect in weeks and tied to a pricey Alzheimer's drug whose benefits have been widely questioned.”

We reported previously that about half of the large increase in the Medicare Part B premium is because Medicare wants to have the extra money on hand if it decides to cover the cost of the new Alzheimer’s drug Aduhelm. The maker of Aduhelm, Biogen, has listed the cost of the drug as $56,000 per year.

The Bloomberg report added, “If Biden agreed and found a way to do it, a planned January increase of $21.60 a month to Medicare's ‘Part B’ premium for outpatient care would be slashed closer to $10. The monthly premium for 2022 would drop from $170.10 to about $159.

“The jump of $21.60 a month is the biggest increase ever for Medicare premiums in dollar terms, although not percentage-wise. As recently as August, the Medicare Trustees’ report had projected a smaller increase of $10 from the current $148.50. Medicare said it had to boost the rate higher to set aside a contingency fund in case the program formally approves coverage for Aduhelm.”

Aduhelm is the first Alzheimer’s medication in nearly 20 years, although it does not cure the disease. The Food and Drug Administration approved the drug this year, but its decision was very controversial because it overrode its own outside advisers. Many experts say Aduhelm's benefit has not been clearly demonstrated. The Department of Veterans Affairs declined to list the medicine on its roster of approved drugs.

Medicare has begun a formal assessment to determine whether it should cover the drug, and a final decision is not likely until at least the spring.

TSCL has sent a letter to Sen. Sanders letting him know we support his effort on this issue.