Could the Hefty Medicare Part B Premium Increase Be Scaled Back?: The Social Security Administration’s (SSA) sizeable 5.9 percent cost of living adjustment (COLA) raise announced last fall was surely met with great enthusiasm—but do know that news was somewhat tempered by the fact that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services also confirmed that Medicare Part B premiums for this year would increase 14.5 percent.
This all means that the premiums are slated to rise from $148.50 a month to $170.10 per month in 2022, largely cutting into the meatier monthly Social Security checks.
“Once again, American seniors and taxpayers will pay the price for the outrageous pricing behavior of big drug companies,” Bill Sweeney, AARP senior vice president for government affairs, claimed in a statement.
Could the Medicare Part B Premium Increase Be Reduced?
However, there could be some much-needed good news on the horizon, as it was reported that there is a possibility that the Medicare Part B premiums for this year could be reduced.
“Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra … announced that he is instructing the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to reassess this year’s standard premium, which jumped to $171.10 from $148.50 in 2021,” CNBC wrote.
“About half of the larger-than-expected increase was attributed to the potential cost of covering Aduhelm—a drug that battles Alzheimer’s disease—despite not knowing yet to what extent the program would cover it. Either way, the manufacturer has since cut in half its estimated per-patient price tag to $28,000 annually from $56,000—meaning Medicare’s cost estimate was based on now-dated information,” it continued.
Becerra added that “with the 50 percent price drop of Aduhelm on January 1, there is a compelling basis for CMS to reexamine the previous recommendation.”
Medicare officials are likely to release a preliminary decision on coverage this week, with a final decision being made in the spring.
Making a retroactive price change to Medicare Part B premiums “would be unprecedented, but in this situation it may not be unwarranted,” Juliette Cubanski, deputy director of the program on Medicare policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, told the business news outlet.
“If it turns out that spending on this drug is going to be significantly less than what Medicare’s actuaries expected … it would be reasonable to make an adjustment to the Part B premium,” she added.
Double Whammy of Pandemic, Inflation
There already have been grumblings regarding the fact that the bigger Social Security checks will do little to help out struggling seniors amid the ongoing pandemic and red-hot high-inflationary environment.
“And while it’s easy to argue that seniors will still come out ahead financially, let’s also remember that the whole reason Social Security benefits are rising so much in 2022 is that inflation has driven the cost of living up substantially,” she concluded.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.