Largest-ever Medicare premium hikes: Biden just handed a huge "gift to McConnell" ahead of midterms | Salon.com

  

Category:  News & Politics

Via:  right-down-the-center  •  4 weeks ago  •  23 comments

By:   Jake Johnson (Salon)

Largest-ever Medicare premium hikes: Biden just handed a huge "gift to McConnell" ahead of midterms | Salon.com
Advocates warn Biden just handed a "gift to McConnell."

Can Joe at least do one thing right?  Not so far


S E E D E D   C O N T E N T



The Biden administration quietly announced last week that it will leave in place one of the largest-ever Medicare premium hikes for the remainder of 2022, despite federal health officials' decision to restrict coverage of the expensive and potentially ineffective Alzheimer's drug that drove the increase.

Progressive healthcare advocates responded with outrage to the administration's Friday announcement, warning that it will inflict entirely avoidable financial pain on vulnerable seniors and hand the GOP an effective talking point heading into the November midterms.

"This is a terrible decision," Linda Benesch, communications director of Social Security Works, told Common Dreams. "Seniors should never have been forced to pay inflated Medicare premiums for an ineffective, dangerous, and massively overpriced drug."

"Not only is lowering Medicare premiums the right thing to do, it's also a political necessity," said Benesch. "Older voters are a key force in midterm elections. Keeping Medicare premiums needlessly high until after the election is a gift to Mitch McConnell and his fellow Republicans. Every Congressional Democrat who wants to keep their seat in November should join us in calling on the Biden administration to reverse this decision and lower Medicare premiums now!"

Warren Gunnels, the staff director for Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., similarly argued that the Biden administration's refusal to reverse the premium hike is both political and policy malpractice.

"Imagine being able to put more money in the pockets of senior citizens who are struggling to put food on the table right now and doing nothing instead," Gunnels wrote on Twitter. "This is how you blow a slam dunk."

First announced by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) last November, the monthly Medicare Part B premium increase of 14.5% over the 2021 rate—from $148.50 to $170.10—was enacted to account for the potentially massive cost that Biogen's Alzheimer's drug Aduhelm was expected to impose on the federal health program in 2022.

But in January, under pressure from progressive lawmakers and organizations, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra instructed CMS to reexamine the 2022 Medicare premium hike in light of Biogen's decision to cut Aduhelm's annual price from $56,000 to $28,200.

And last month, CMS finalized its decision to restrict coverage of Aduhelm to Medicare patients enrolled in clinical trials, further undercutting the justification for the 2022 premium spike.

Citing CMS' Aduhelm coverage decision, Sanders—the chair of the Senate Budget Committee—pushed the Biden administration earlier this year to swiftly reverse the Medicare premium increase and refund seniors who had already paid the inflated price.

Benesch echoed that demand on Tuesday, arguing that "once Medicare rightfully decided not to cover Aduhelm in most circumstances, beneficiaries should have gotten a refund."

"We are going to keep organizing seniors to demand that the Biden administration reverse course and send Medicare beneficiaries the refund they deserve, along with lowering premiums for the rest of the year," said Benesch.

In a five-page analysis released Friday, CMS insisted that carrying out a mid-year change to Medicare's 2022 premiums would be "prohibitively complex and highly risky, requiring significant resources and unproven technical solutions from the varied entities which manage premium collection and payment."

The agency estimated that Medicare Part B's monthly premiums in 2022 would have been $160.30 instead of $170.10 if Aduhelm were removed from the equation.

"Potential Aduhelm costs resulted in roughly half of the 2022 premium increase," CMS said.

Becerra pointed to CMS' conclusion as evidence that the Biden administration's hands are tied by its own November decision to hike premiums in preparation for Aduhelm cost burdens.

Lamenting the "legal and operational hurdles" flagged by CMS, Becerra promised the administration will work to ensure that seniors see premium relief next year—cold comfort to those hurt by higher costs in 2022.

"After receiving CMS' report reevaluating the 2022 Medicare Part B premiums, we have determined that we can put cost-savings directly back into the pockets of people enrolled in Medicare in 2023," said Becerra. "We had hoped to achieve this sooner, but CMS explains that the options to accomplish this would not be feasible."

"CMS and HHS are committed to lowering healthcare costs—so we look forward to seeing this Medicare premium adjustment across the finish line to ensure seniors get their cost savings in 2023," Becerra added.

But Rachel Cohrs of STATnoted that while "overpayments will instead be factored into next year's premiums," it is "possible seniors won't see a decrease in premiums next year, but instead premiums may hold steady or increase at a slower rate than they otherwise would have."

In response to STAT's reporting, Sanders' communications director Mike Casca called it "a classic Democratic Party story."

"Pharma greed and a broken bureaucracy drove up Medicare premiums," Casca added. "[The] White House could take a victory lap and tout lower rates after taking action. Nope!"


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Right Down the Center
Freshman Guide
1  seeder  Right Down the Center    4 weeks ago

Go Joe Go.  Seal the fate of the November elections

 
 
 
Ed-NavDoc
Professor Quiet
1.1  Ed-NavDoc  replied to  Right Down the Center @1    4 weeks ago

You are absolutely correct.

Glad I have three different methods of coverage. I have Medicare A & B, TriCare for Life, and VA Medical coverage if I choose to utilize it. The only out of pocket costs I have are prescription costs. Benefits of 20 years of military service to my country.

 
 
 
afrayedknot
Freshman Quiet
1.1.1  afrayedknot  replied to  Ed-NavDoc @1.1    4 weeks ago

“Glad I have three different methods of coverage. I have Medicare A & B, TriCare for Life, and VA Medical coverage…”

Have you thanked a dem?

 
 
 
Right Down the Center
Freshman Guide
1.1.2  seeder  Right Down the Center  replied to  Ed-NavDoc @1.1    4 weeks ago

I won't be on Medicare for another year but I am starting to look into A,B, D, N and other stuff along with an advantage plan.  I hope they all cover migraine headaches because I am getting one when I research it.

 
 
 
Ed-NavDoc
Professor Quiet
1.1.3  Ed-NavDoc  replied to  afrayedknot @1.1.1    4 weeks ago

Why would I even consider thanking a Dem for something I earned my benefits with my blood which I spilled in two wars on two continents? I spent 20 years of my life in a military uniform in the service of my country. Screw the Dems, it's the other way around. I don't owe them a damn thing!

 
 
 
afrayedknot
Freshman Quiet
1.1.4  afrayedknot  replied to  Ed-NavDoc @1.1.3    4 weeks ago

You certainly earned it sir, and I meant no disrespect.

Sincerely.

But if not for democrats pushing for, voting for, and passing the legislation…your well deserved benefits would be limited to thoughts and prayers. 

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Freshman Principal
1.1.5  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  afrayedknot @1.1.4    4 weeks ago

Both Parties voted for increased VA benefits and both Parties have failed to reform the VA.

 
 
 
afrayedknot
Freshman Quiet
1.1.6  afrayedknot  replied to  Drinker of the Wry @1.1.5    4 weeks ago

Fuck off. 

 
 
 
Ed-NavDoc
Professor Quiet
1.1.7  Ed-NavDoc  replied to  Drinker of the Wry @1.1.5    4 weeks ago

Bingo!

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Freshman Principal
1.1.8  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  afrayedknot @1.1.6    4 weeks ago

So says the VA.

 
 
 
Ed-NavDoc
Professor Quiet
1.1.9  Ed-NavDoc  replied to  Drinker of the Wry @1.1.8    4 weeks ago

Just as a sideline, the Biden administration wants to pull assets, as in doctors and nurses, from VA facilities in the border states and elsewhere and send them to the border to treat the illegals being held at the border, thus further limiting available care to veterans trying to get care at VA medical facilities. I was totally disgusted reading about Biden and his minions slap in the face to eligible veterans. Just one more nail in the coffin of Democrat reelection in mid terms and 2024. 

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Freshman Principal
1.1.10  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  Ed-NavDoc @1.1.9    4 weeks ago

You’re right, but the Administration had to pull that back last month.  Homeland Security Secretary at Senate Judiciary Hearing said talks with VA Secretary had ended.

“We are not making that request of the Veterans Affairs Department. And the Veterans Affairs Department will not be allocating resources to the border.”

 
 
 
Ed-NavDoc
Professor Quiet
1.1.11  Ed-NavDoc  replied to  Drinker of the Wry @1.1.10    4 weeks ago

Good, but the very fact that the Biden Administration even tried still speaks volumes about their commitment to veteran's health care, as in they don't give a rats posterior!

 
 
 
Jeremy Retired in NC
PhD Guide
1.1.12  Jeremy Retired in NC  replied to  afrayedknot @1.1.1    4 weeks ago
Have you thanked a dem?

For what?  The travesty of the VA Health System?  Creating the clusterfuck Tricare actually is?  The fucked up Medicare system as a whole? 

Why would I thank the people who shit on our veterans?

 
 
 
Greg Jones
Professor Guide
1.1.13  Greg Jones  replied to  afrayedknot @1.1.6    4 weeks ago
"Fuck off."

Can't handle the truth? 

 
 
 
SteevieGee
Senior Silent
1.2  SteevieGee  replied to  Right Down the Center @1    4 weeks ago

So...  Joe's not the total leftist you thought he was then?

 
 
 
Right Down the Center
Freshman Guide
1.2.1  seeder  Right Down the Center  replied to  SteevieGee @1.2    4 weeks ago

Joe turned out to be the opposite of what he sold himself as.

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Freshman Principal
2  Drinker of the Wry    4 weeks ago
Glad I have three different methods of coverage. I have Medicare A & B, TriCare for Life, and VA

I've never used the VA but I do use the other two.  I thought that TriCare grew out of CHAMPUS which was the result of our Military-Industrial Complex.

 
 
 
Ed-NavDoc
Professor Quiet
2.1  Ed-NavDoc  replied to  Drinker of the Wry @2    4 weeks ago

You are correct. It was CHAMPUS when I first enlisted and it later morphed into TriCare. The only thing I use the VA for is for my hearing aids and optometry services. I live an hours drive away from the nearest VA facility and utilize my local primary care physician and pharmacy.

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Freshman Principal
2.1.1  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  Ed-NavDoc @2.1    4 weeks ago

When I entered the Service in 1976, one of the promises was free healthcare for life if you stayed until retirement.  I did and I paid my Medicare tax every year and I still do as I continue to work.  Additionally, since I started Medicare, I pay another $238 per month in my Part B Premium.  

 
 
 
Ed-NavDoc
Professor Quiet
2.1.2  Ed-NavDoc  replied to  Drinker of the Wry @2.1.1    4 weeks ago

I personally have found Part B to be over rated. Being a military retiree, TriCare covers most of my medication costs at a local pharmacy in the town I live in. I am considering dropping Part B prescription from my plan.

 
 
 
MonsterMash
Sophomore Participates
3  MonsterMash    4 weeks ago

I use the VA, part B of Medicare is unnecessary 

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
4  Kavika     4 weeks ago

Medicare, IHS, VA and a union retirement that pays for the medicare rider. 

The way SS and medicare work is that the medicare increase is tied to the COLA. It can never exceed the COLA. So if they reduce the medicare cost back to $160 from $171 how they would work the COLA/Medicare reimbursement.

 
 

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