Remembering The Fallen
We begin this update by remembering and honoring those who “gave the last full measure of devotion” to our nation. May we, in President Lincoln’s words, “resolve these dead shall not have died in vain; that the nation, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
* * * *
Limited Drug Importation from Canada Approved
Both the Trump and Biden Administrations have supported importing drugs from Canada, which are generally much less expensive than the same drugs in the U.S.
While it never happened under Trump, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has now given approval for pharmacists and drug wholesalers to import prescription medicines from Canada for up to two years as part of state programs aimed at bringing down drug costs.
In April, the FDA began discussions with five states - Florida, Colorado, Vermont, Maine, and New Mexico – to begin the test program.
According to a report by Axios, a Washington, D.C. news service, “The guidance lays out requirements for importing drugs from wholesalers licensed by Canadian regulators and for testing and labeling the drugs. It excludes some controlled substances, biological products, and infused drugs.”
However, there is skepticism by some that the program will work. Canada has said from the time this idea was first discussed that its market is too small to make a dent on U.S. drug prices, and many drug suppliers there have said they won't participate.
* * * *
2023 Medicare Part B Premiums to Reflect Lower-Than-Expected spending on Alzheimer’s Drug
When Medicare Part B Premiums skyrocketed at the beginning of this year TSCL and other seniors’ organizations protested that the increase was way too much and that it would seriously harm seniors with lower incomes.
The huge increase came about because of the anticipation that Medicare would cover a new Alzheimer’s drug called Aduhelm that was extremely expensive.
We covered that story earlier this year but suffice it to say that the drug was, and is, very controversial and had received a contentious approval from the FDA.
Ultimately, Medicare decided that it would cover the cost of the drug only in limited circumstances and as a result, that amount of money Medicare had anticipated spending on the drug far exceeded the actual amount being spent.
Earlier this year Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Bacerra told Medicare to consider lowering the Part B premium this year.
However, it was determined that the legal and administrative hurdles to do so were too high so it was announced last week that the overpayments this year will be factored into the Part B premiums next year.
Medicare officials calculated that if the current situation around Aduhelm had been factored into at the beginning of the year, premiums would have increased 8% instead of the actual increase of 14.5%.
The calculation means that older adults paying average premiums for outpatient services will pay roughly an extra $116 this year due to the impacts of a single, expensive drug.
It is possible seniors will not see a decrease in premiums next year, but instead premiums may hold steady or increase at a slower rate than they otherwise would have, Medicare officials said.
* * * *
Medicare Enrollment/Disenrollment Period Extended
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced that it will extend the enrollment/disenrollment period for 2022 to the end of this year.
This relief applies to the 2022 General Enrollment Period, Initial Enrollment Period, and Special Enrollment Period.
Anyone who was unable to enroll or disenroll in Medicare because they could not reach the Medicare office by phone after January 1, 2022, will be granted additional time, through December 30, 2022.
For more information, call 1-800-772-1213 or you can click on HERE for more information.
* * * *
As we continue dealing with the Covid 19 pandemic, TSCL remains constant in our fight for you to protect your Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits. We have had to make some adjustments in the way we carry on our work, but we have not, and will not stop our work on your behalf.
For progress updates or for more information about these and other bills that would strengthen Social Security and Medicare programs, visit our website at www.SeniorsLeague.org or follow TSCL Facebook or on Twitter.