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June 1, 2022

Around the nation: CMS to lower Medicare premiums in 2023

Daily Briefing

    CMS announced that it would adjust Medicare premiums in 2023 following a report that found the agency overestimated costs associated with an Alzheimer's drug, in today's bite-sized hospital and health industry news from California, the District of Columbia, and Maryland.

    • California: A longitudinal study found that almost 2,300 adolescents and young adults became new daily tobacco users every day between 2017 and 2019. Overall, the study found that the total number of daily e-cigarette users under 21 years of age grew to over 1 million by 2019. Among those users, 56.3% used Juul products, according to John Pierce, study author and cancer prevention researcher at the University of California, San Diego, and his colleagues. "The large increase in daily use among U.S. adolescents could presage future health consequences and needs urgent additional action from the [FDA]," the authors wrote. "Our data suggest that there may be a new generation of daily tobacco users who did not become dependent on combustible tobacco," they said. "Hopefully, they may never switch to cigarette smoking, thus avoiding many of the health consequences, although e-cigarettes themselves are not harmless." (Ruprecht, MedPage Today, 5/30)
    • District of Columbia: CMS on Friday announced that it would adjust Medicare premiums in 2023 following a report that found the agency overestimated costs associated with Biogen's Alzheimer's drug. In January, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra ordered Medicare to "reassess" the proposed premium increase after Biogen lowered the price of the drug. "With the 50 percent price drop of Aduhelm on January 1, there is a compelling basis for CMS to reexamine the previous recommendation," Becerra said at the time. Ultimately, CMS concluded it would not be able to adjust premiums for 2022 or refund premiums—unless a beneficiary pays more than they are billed. Notably, HHS cited "legal and operational hurdles" as the reason premiums will not be adjusted this year. While Becerra said HHS hoped to achieve this lowered premium sooner, he said it was not a "feasible" goal. "CMS and HHS are committed to lowering health care 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. (Goldman, Modern Healthcare, 5/27; Choi, The Hill, 5/27)
    • Maryland: FDA is investigating a Hepatitis A outbreak in the United States and Canada that has been linked to strawberries sold at major grocery stores, including Walmart, Safeway, and Trader Joe's. So far, FDA has identified 17 cases of Hepatitis A and 12 hospitalizations in the United States. Notably, 15 cases were in California, and the other two cases were in Minnesota and North Dakota. The agency is currently working with CDC to investigate fresh organic strawberries from the FreshKampo and HEB brands that were purchased between March 5 and April 25. While the strawberries are now past their shelf life, FDA said anyone who purchased the berries and froze them should not eat them. (Shapero, Axios, 5/29) 

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