Alzheimer’s is being used as a rationale to increase Medicare premiums and implement drug price controls, says a leading advocate for older adults—"this was a shameful and ageist thing to do to a community that already faces a high degree of isolation and stigma."
What happened: “I was floored to receive an email earlier this month from the Centers of Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) with a fact sheet asserting that increases in the 2022 Medicare Part B premium and deductible were due to the possibility of coverage for a ‘high cost Alzheimer’s drug,’” writes Sue Peschin, President and CEO of the Alliance for Aging Research.
Why it matters: “For as long as I have been an advocate for older adults, I do not recall CMS publicly calling out the cost of care for a specific disease or chronic condition as the rationale for raising premiums. Imagine if CMS called out treatments for cancer, organ transplant, or vision loss to blame for premium increases,” she says.
It gets worse: House Energy and Commerce released a statement touting the change as rationale “for Congress to finally give Medicare the ability to negotiate lower prescription drug costs,” which could happen soon.
Except it’s not negotiation at all—but government price-setting that will “hurt the very patients and seniors they are trying to help,” as we’ve said.
The proposal relies on discriminatory Quality-Adjusted Life Year (QALY) assessments, which “usually undervalue treatments for groups of people who have less ‘life years’ or ‘perfect health’ ahead of them (e.g., people with disabilities and people with chronic illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease).”
And there’s evidence: QALY assessments have led to “access issues,” “higher mortality rates for chronic diseases like cancer,” and greater health inequities in other countries, Peschin explains—read and share the whole thing.
It's time to take action. The Build Back Better Act, which contains drug price controls, was passed by the House and will soon be considered by the Senate. Learn more and urge your Senator to reject price controls and protect seniors and future cures.
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