A large increase in Medicare premiums will be implemented in a few weeks, and Sanders wants the White House to ease up on it.
The pricey Alzheimer’s drug has been questioned for its efficacy, which has led to this hike.
As part of a letter to the president dated Friday, the Vermont Independent urged him to take immediate action to prevent an “outrageous increase” in Medicare premiums that are linked to Aduhelm, an Alzheimer’s drug just approved by Biogen that costs $56,000 per year.
Biden’s agreement would mean Medicare Part B’s planned January premium increase of $21.60 a month for outpatient care would be cut to about $10 a month. From $170.10 to about $159, the premium for 2022 will drop.
Democrats risk having seniors turn against them in the 2022 midterm elections as a result of one of the biggest Medicare premium increases in history.
In order to cover rising gas and food prices, the premium increases will claw back a large chunk of next year’s Social Security cost-of-living allowance. For the average retiree, this boost amounts to $92 each month.
“Biogen’s $56,000 price of Aduhelm is the poster child for how dysfunctional our prescription drug pricing system has become,” Sanders penned to Biden.
“The notion that one pharmaceutical company can raise the price of one drug so much that it could negatively impact 57 million senior citizens and the future of Medicare is beyond absurd. With Democrats in control of the White House, the House, and the Senate we cannot let that happen.”
The Associated Press was provided with a copy of the letter.
In the immediate aftermath, White House officials did not immediately comment.
Sanders’ letter comes in a time when the Democrats have been forced to give up their dream of providing dental and vision coverage for Medicare beneficiaries under Biden’s sweeping social agenda.
Price negotiations with drug companies also had to be limited, although the hearing aid coverage remained in the bill.
In the event where the legislation passes, its benefits would not be available right away and would be phased in overtime. Premium hikes, however, would not take effect until the beginning of the next year.
According to Sanders, “it could not come at a worse time for older Americans all over this country who are struggling economically.”
In dollar terms, the hike of $21.60 in Medicare premiums is the most significant increase in Medicare history, although not in percentage terms. It was only projected to raise $10 from the current $148.50 in the Medicare Trustees’ report in August.
According to Medicare, a higher rate was necessary to establish a contingency reserve or funds in the event that Aduhelm was approved for coverage.
The vast majority of Americans – precisely 6 million – with Alzheimer’s disease are over the age of 65. Alzheimer is a progressively debilitating neurological disease without a known cure.
Aduhelm is the first medication for Alzheimer’s in nearly two decades, despite the fact that it doesn’t cure the disease.
Aduhelm, which can reduce plaque clumps in the brain, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this summer.
Due to the FDA’s overriding of its own outside advisors, that decision for approval has been highly controversial.
Meanwhile, most experts agree that Aduhelm’s benefits to humans have not been demonstrated clearly.
Despite its approval by FDA, the medication was declined from being listed on the approved drug list by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
A formal assessment has begun by Medicare to decide whether to cover the medication, and a final decision is unlikely until the spring at the earliest.
Medicare is currently deciding whether to cover Aduhelm on a case-by-case basis.
In a letter to President Biden, Sanders requested that Medicare should hold off on approving Aduhelm coverage until the benefits of the drug could be established scientifically.
According to Biogen, it has carefully examined the costs of advanced treatments for cancer and other conditions before setting its prices.
Adulhelm’s actual value is between $3,000 and $8,400 per year (against its current price of $56,000), according to a nonprofit organization that focuses on drug pricing.