Medicare Part D Users are Feeling the Squeeze

medsIf concerns about being able to retain access to the correct medications to treat their mood disorders was not enough, individuals utilizing Medicare Part D must also be concerned about whether or not they can even afford to take their prescribed medications.

When Medicare Part D took effect in 2006, it arrived with mixed reviews. Today, according to a survey conducted by Medicare Today, 86% of seniors say they are satisfied with their prescription drug plan. One reason they site for the satisfaction is that the costs are reasonable. Given the way things are trending however, the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) may see satisfaction dip.

Cost related non-adherence to medication protocols is growing. The inability to pay for costly medicines causes patients to stretch out their prescriptions by skipping or taking smaller doses than prescribed. In in a recent Health Affairs study, (Medication Affordability Gains Following Medicare Part D Are Eroding Among Elderly with Multiple Chronic Conditions) seniors experiencing four or more chronic conditions reported a cost-related non-adherence rise from a low of 14.4% in 2009 to 17% in 2011.

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Speak Out About Potential Reductions to Medicare Part D Benefits

Trudy LapinLast Tuesday, September 30, DBSA participant Trudy Lapin shared her story during two Congressional briefings sponsored by the Partnership for Part D Access. Trudy used her time to explain to Congressional staff from both the House and the Senate why a proposed regulation by CMS to restrict access to medication that aids in the treatment of mood disorders is misguided. You can read Trudy’s statement below, and learn how you can share your story with your own elected officials.

Treatment is not one size fits all
Although I was first diagnosed officially with major depression in 1993, signs of that particular mood disorder appeared in childhood. While attending college, an over achieving pattern went into high gear. I elected a double major in French and English literature with a minor in secondary education. I graduated with highest honors; accepted a full fellowship to Yale Graduate School to pursue my doctorate in Romance Languages and Literatures; taught French language, literature, and film at Yale College and at the University of Chicago; and was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities grant, where I enjoyed the privilege of working with humanities scholars at Princeton University.

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How Will You Protect Access to Quality Mental Health Care for Seniors?

j0438813Today the Partnership for Medicare Part D will hold a Congressional briefing to discuss the significance of Medicare’s “Six Protected Classes” policy giving seniors access to quality mental health care. While you may not be able to attend in person, it is still critical that you educate your Congressional Representative and Senators on the importance of retaining these benefits.

How Will You Protect Access to Quality Mental Health Care for Seniors?
According to the Geriatric Mental Health Foundation depression impacts more than 6 million of the 40 million Americans over 65. Health problems become more common and increasingly complex as seniors age. With the onset of more serious conditions such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease, individualized medicine becomes increasingly critical to helping seniors manage their mental and physical health.

This is why Congress carved out six protected classes of medications when they authorized Medicare Part D. Their intent was that seniors would have access to these medications without regulatory burdens. The preservation of the six protected classes is critical to providing treatment for serious, complex health conditions without delay or restricted access to essential treatment.

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How You Can Educate Local and State Officials to Increase School Mental Health Services

KellyKelly Vaillancourt, PhD, NCSP
Director of Government Relations, National Association of School Psychologists

Last week, Kelly Vaillancourt provided an easy way for you to advocate to members of Congress about providing mental health services in schools. Now, she offers some ideas about how you can effectively interact with local and state officials in order to make meaningful and substantial progress toward increasing access to comprehensive mental health services. Dr. Vaillancourt is director of government relations at the National Association of School Psychologists, which represents over 25,000 school psychologists. These professionals work with students, educators, administrators, and families to support the academic achievement, positive behavior, and mental health of all students, especially those who struggle with barriers to learning. Your voice is critical in helping ensure that all children, youth, and adults have access to the mental and behavioral health services they need and there are many quick and easy ways that you can be an effective advocate. Here, we focus on the ways you can educate and advocate at the local and state levels.

Educate School Boards about Comprehensive Mental Health Supports

  • Identify your local school board members. Review facts about them including involvement in education and with other community organizations. Furthermore, educate yourself on the jurisdiction the school board has over local policy and budget decisions as this can vary across districts and states.
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National Association of School Psychologists Issues Call to Action

KellyKelly Vaillancourt, PhD, NCSP
Director of Government Relations, National Association of School Psychologists

Recently on Care for Your Mind, Dr. Anne Marie Albano contended that schools are the right place for kids to get treatment for social anxiety disorder. Today, Kelly Vaillancourt of the National Association of School Psychologists offers an easy way for you to advocate for school-based psychological services.

In order to make meaningful and substantial progress toward increasing access to comprehensive mental health services, we must call upon our local, state, and federal policy makers to act. We need to

  • educate legislators and government officials about evidence-based policies and practices
  • encourage them to allocate the necessary funding to ensure these practices are in places in our schools and communities.


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It’s About Mental Health, America

paulgianfriddoPaul Gionfriddo
President and CEO, Mental Health America

I became President and CEO of Mental Health America on May 1, honored by the opportunity to work with so many wonderful advocates on behalf of people with concern for mental health. At Mental Health America, our goal is:

  • prevention for all
  • early identification and intervention for those at risk
  • integrated health and behavioral health services for those who need them, and
  • recovery as a goal

Changing the treatment paradigm
For too long, policymakers and some advocates have been mired in what I call Stage 4 thinking. They have accepted the largely false premise that mental health concerns and violence are intertwined. They have accepted “imminent danger to self or others” as a standard for diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses.

But as I have said repeatedly, mental illnesses are the only chronic conditions that we treat this way. They are the only chronic conditions where, as a matter of public policy, we wait until Stage 4 to treat, and then often only through incarceration.

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Mental Health Advocate Launches Suicide Prevention Campaign While In- flight

AJ-French-2014AJ French, CRSS
Executive Director of Sacred Creations

Anyone can start an awareness campaign. All it requires is passion and a willingness to speak out. AJ French is a mental health advocate who demonstrates that a little tenacity and the courage to speak up has the power to change lives.

The Illinois Suicide Prevention Alliance recently sent out an email saying that this is “a time to encourage people to add the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK (8255) number into the contact list on their phone. You never know when you will want to share it with someone who is struggling.” I was thinking about this on United Airlines Flight 4628 to New Jersey and asked the flight attendant if I could have one minute to make an announcement about the Suicide Prevention LIFELINE. She said yes and I made the announcement!

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How Can You Find The Right Provider to Treat Social Anxiety Disorder?

BlumensteinBottLori Blumenstein-Bott, MSW, LMSW
Executive Director, The Andrew Kukes Foundation for Social Anxiety

Finding a provider to treat social anxiety disorder can be a challenge, especially because so many people—mental health professionals included—do not know how to diagnose or treat it. Ms. Blumentstein-Bott shares tips from the Andrew Kukes Foundation to help people living with social anxiety disorder and their families effectively exercise their right to an appropriate provider.

One in eight people lives with social anxiety disorder. As the third most-common mental health condition, it’s everywhere, yet greatly misunderstood, misdiagnosed, and mistreated. But there is help. And with access to the right treatment, individuals can expect to lead quality lives. However, lack of basic awareness and understanding about the disorder presents a major barrier to quality care. Addressing this challenge begins with getting essential information into the hands of the right people:  individuals living with social anxiety disorder, teachers, parents, and health professionals.

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Back to School Anxiety. What is Your School Doing to Help Your Child Succeed?

AlbanoAnne Marie Albano, PhD
Associate Professor, Clinical Psychology in Psychiatry
Director, Columbia University Clinic for Anxiety and Related Disorders, Columbia University Medical Center

Classrooms are ripe for social anxiety triggers
From being called on in class to navigating the hallways, school is rife with social stressors. However, for children and teens with social anxiety disorder, school can be even more stressful, as school presents a full day of social interactions with peers and authority figures. The day can harbor countless opportunities to be embarrassed or say something humiliating. As a result, many young children with social phobia have a hard time transitioning to school and may cling to parents or have long, tearful good-byes. Older children and teens may simply refuse to go to school.

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When Young People Suffer Social Anxiety Disorder: What Parents Can Do

AlbanoAnne Marie Albano, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Clinical Psychology in Psychiatry
Director, Columbia University Clinic for Anxiety and Related Disorders,
Columbia University Medical Center

Social anxiety disorder (SAD), or social phobia, can have a crippling effect on young people. Children who avoid raising their hand or speaking up in school can become tweens who withdraw from extracurricular activities, and then teens who experience isolation and depression. In fact, children with social anxiety disorder are more likely than their peers without SAD to develop depression by age 15 and substance abuse by age 16 or 17.

As they head toward adulthood, young people with social anxiety disorder tend to choose paths that require less involvement with other people, and so cut short a lot of opportunities. Bright, intelligent young people who have yearnings to be lawyers or doctors, but cannot interact with other people, may choose a profession or work that is very solitary; or they might not enter the work force at all.

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