photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Note:  Since this post was published, the drugmaker Biogen reduced the price of Aduhelm from $56,000 to $28,200. It is unclear, however, whether that will lower the scheduled Medicare Part B premium increase for 2022. 


The National Committee is urging President Biden to mitigate the announced $21 monthly increase in Medicare Part B premiums. President and CEO Max Richtman sent a letter to the White House this week asking President Biden to intervene before the premium hike takes effect in 2022.

“To many seniors and people with disabilities living on a fixed income, a $21 increase will cause hardship. The Part B premium hike will consume a significant amount of their Social Security Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) at a time when inflation is making so many other goods and services… more expensive.”  – NCPSSM letter to President Biden, 12/14/21

The premium increase is driven partly by the introduction of the new Alzeheimer’s drug, Aduhelm, with a price tag of $56,000.  The cost of Aduhelm was factored into the 2022 premium hike in the event that Medicare Part B covers it, which is not even certain.

“Beneficiaries in traditional Medicare without supplemental coverage would be forced to pay a 20 percent co-payment of $11,200 out of pocket for Aduhelm. This medication is ‘Exhibit A’ for what is wrong with drug pricing in the United States and why Medicare should have broad authority to negotiate prescription drugs prices, including medications under patent or exclusivity.” – NCPSSM letter, 12/14/21

The current version of President Biden’s Build Back Better plan would not allow Medicare to negotiate the price of new drugs like Aduhelm.  Build Back Better originally included more robust price negotiation, but it was diluted after objections from Democratic centrists.

Independent analysis places the value of Aduhelm at a fraction of its $56,000 a year cost.

“What makes Aduhelm’s exorbitant cost all the more unconscionable is that many in the scientific establishment do not think the drug is even safe or effective. The American Academy of Neurology has raised concerns about the drug’s safety — it can cause brain swelling — and the ‘absence of convincing scientific evidence of efficacy.’” – NCPSSM letter, 12/14/21

The National Committee is calling on President Biden to take steps to prevent Aduhelm from driving up the cost of Part B premiums for seniors and people with disabilities.  In addition, NCPSSM urges the President to reinstate the ‘reasonable pricing clause’ established by the National Institutes of Health in 1989 but later revoked. “Medicare beneficiaries and taxpayers should pay a reasonable price for effective drugs that are worth the amount manufacturers charge,” writes Richtman.

“It’s unlikely that the President would roll back the entire Part B premium increase,” says NCPSSM legislative and policy director Dan Adcock. “It’s more plausible that he would reduce the premium by about $11.50 per month, the amount attributable to the cost of Aduhelm.”