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FYI: From the Alliance for Retired Americans Friday
Health Care and Retirement News
January 7, 2022
Prices Jump 5% On More Than 450 Prescription Drugs to Start the Year
Pharmaceutical corporations have already raised wholesale prices by a median of 4.9% on more than 450 prescription medicines in 2022, according to a new analysis by Stat.
The industry is expected to hike more prices throughout January. In 2021, the pharmaceutical corporations spread 783 price hikes throughout the first month of the year to avoid the heightened scrutiny of January 1 hikes. The initial batch of price increases includes a 4.9% increase on Trikafta, a blockbuster cystic fibrosis medication from Vertex that has no competitors and already has a list price of more than $311,000 per year.
A recent three-year investigation by the House Oversight and Reform Committee found that drug corporations increase prices in the United States because the government does not regulate or negotiate drug prices. The Committee’s report also revealed that price hikes went to executive bonuses and meeting revenue targets, not increased research and development or increasing the effectiveness of existing drugs.
“It is outrageous that legislation to lower drug prices and allow Medicare to negotiate with the drug corporations is stalled in the Senate,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance. "The industry’s monopoly power over prices is unjustified, and the American people are tired of paying the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs. Older Americans can’t wait any longer.”
How to Get Social Security Questions Answered
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has released a new flyer explaining how Americans can get help and information while the pandemic continues. It stresses that the best way for most people to find the information they need is on its website, www.SSA.gov.
People can also reach SSA by calling 800-772-1213 or contacting a local Social Security office.
Local Social Security offices are open by appointment only. All visitors must wear a mask, regardless of vaccination status. Visitors are asked to be prepared to wait outdoors when ability to follow physical distancing requirements is limited indoors and to come alone unless they require help with their visit. If you need help, only one person is allowed to accompany you.
A recent report by the SSA’s Office of Inspector General found that there was a sixty-five percent increase in calls to the SSA during the pandemic.
“No Surprises Act” Law is Now in Effect to Dispute Unexpected Medical Bills
Thanks to the No Surprises Act, Americans are now protected from surprise medical billing. Since January 1, 2022, this new law has begun to protect
both the insured and uninsured from surprise medical bills. Consumers have new rights and easy options to dispute unanticipated charges – which is important, since more than half of U.S. consumers report having received an unexpectedly large medical bill.
Surprise medical bills average more than $1,200 for anesthesia, $2,600 for surgical assistant fees and $750 for childbirth. However, the rules have finally changed after causing anguish to patients for decades. Learn about your new rights as a consumer here.
“No one should receive a surprise medical bill or face financial ruin because they were unknowingly treated by an out-of-network provider during emergency care,” said Joseph Peters, Jr., Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. “Fortunately, patients now have protections.”
You can sign up for these Friday Alerts by emailing the Alliance email address below.
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NYSUT Mental Health: If you find that you are struggling with issues and want to talk to someone, call NYSUT Social Servics. They can make referrals as needed for our members and their families.
Contact: 1-800-342-9810, ext. 6206
Administrator: Brenda Benes
**Medicare eligible: must apply 3 months before 65 yrs. old. For those who are 65 yrs. old and not taking Social Security, must sign up for Medicare Part A.
*NYSUT-retiree services: Claire Zatorski (516)496-2035