January 10, 2022
Retirees Applaud HHS Secretary Becerra’s Directive that CMS Reconsider 14% 2022 Medicare Premium Hike
Statement by Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, regarding reports that Xavier Becerra, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has ordered the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to reconsider the massive Medicare Part B premium hike scheduled for this month.
“Medicare beneficiaries were rightly shocked to learn that their Medicare Part B premiums will go up by $21.70 per month, a 14.55% increase over last year’s premium. The higher premiums, which are deducted from beneficiaries’ Social Security checks, will cost consumers a significant portion of this year’s 5.9% cost-of-living increase. Seniors simply cannot afford it.
“We are grateful that Secretary Becerra has done what Alliance members asked: tell CMS to reconsider its decision. More than half of this increase is due to the exorbitant price of just one prescription drug for Alzheimer’s, Aduhelm, that has not even been approved for use by Medicare.
“Americans pay the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs, and seniors are bearing the brunt of it. It is wrong that pharmaceutical corporations have already hiked prices for hundreds of drugs by nearly 5% this year. It is unconscionable for Medicare premiums to increase this dramatically because of one corporation’s greed.
“This illustrates why Congress must take strong action to rein in the drug corporations and allow Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices for the American people.”
A CMS official told CNN on November 16 that $10 of what amounted to the planned $21.70 Medicare premium increase was due to the price of the new drug Aduhelm, which costs $56,000 per year per patient, and could cost Medicare $29 billion in just one year.
Aduhelm has sparked heated controversy since it was first approved by the Food and Drug Administration in June. At first, FDA researchers said there wasn’t enough evidence of the drug’s effectiveness to merit its approval, and three members of the FDA’s Central Nervous System Advisory Committee even resigned in protest.
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