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WASHINGTON (AP) — Medicare beneficiaries will get a premium reduction — but not until next year — mirroring what Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said Friday was an overestimate of the costs of coverage of an expensive and controversial new Alzheimer’s drug.
Becerra’s statement says the 2022 premium should be adjusted downward, but legal and operational hurdles prevented officials from doing so midway through the year. He did not specify by how much the bonus would be adjusted.
Medicare Part B premiums jumped $22 a month, to $170.10, for 2022, in part because of the cost of the drug Aduhelm, which was approved despite weak evidence it could slow the progression of the disease. Alzheimer’s disease.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has limited coverage of Aduhelm for use in clinical trials approved by the Food and Drug Administration or the National Institutes of Health. He began to reevaluate the premium increase under pressure from Congress and consumers.
The drug’s maker, Biogen, based in Cambridge, Mass., has cut the cost of the drug in half, to about $28,000 a year.
CMS cited the drug’s steep price reduction and coverage limitations to conclude that the cost savings could be passed on to Medicare beneficiaries. In a report to Becerra, the agency said the premium recommendation for 2022 would have been $160.40 per month had the price reduction and coverage determination been in place when officials calculated the figure.
The premium for 2023 for the more than 56 million Medicare beneficiaries will be announced in the fall.
“We were hoping to achieve this sooner, but CMS explains that the options for achieving this would not be feasible,” Becerra said. “CMS and HHS are committed to lowering health care costs — so we’re excited to see this Medicare premium adjustment hit the finish line to ensure seniors get their savings in 2023.”
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