Medicare premiums to jump in part due to pricey Alzheimer’s drug

Seniors on Medicare will have to pay more than $20 more per month extra in premiums next year, a large increase that officials in part attributed to possible coverage of a pricey and controversial new Alzheimer’s drug. 

The Biden administration announced Friday that the monthly premium for Medicare Part B, which covers services like doctors office visits, will increase by $21.60, from $148.50 in 2021 to $170.10 in 2022. Officials said that is one of the largest increases in recent years. 

About half of that increase is due to contingency planning to make sure the program has enough money to pay for an expensive new Alzheimer’s drug, if Medicare decides to cover it, an official at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said. 

That drug, called Aduhelm and made by the company Biogen, has drawn controversy both for its price, at $56,000 per year, and because the Food and Drug Administration approved it despite doubts from experts about its effectiveness. 

Administration officials emphasized Friday that most people on Medicare will also be getting a large cost of living increase in their Social Security payments next year, which they said would more than offset the rise in Medicare costs for many seniors. 

Still, Democrats said the news shows the need to get drug prices under control, pointing to provisions in President Biden’s Build Back Better plan to lower drug costs. 

“Skyrocketing drug prices not only make it harder for seniors to afford the lifesaving drugs they need, but also drive up their health care premiums for doctor’s visits and outpatient care,” House Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) said in response to the announcement.

“This double financial whammy simply cannot continue, and that’s why Congress must pass the bicameral Medicare prescription drug agreement that was included in the Build Back Better Act last week.”

Tags Aduhelm Alzheimer's Biogen Drug prices FDA Joe Biden Medicare
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