Executive Director of NAMI St. Louis
For nine years, Medicare beneficiaries have had access to the antidepressants and antipsychotics that work best for them. Now, a proposed change threatens to revoke that access. The resulting effect will be devastating for individuals with mental illness and their families, and costly to society at large.
It Doesn’t Add Up
Back in 2005, when the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) launched the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit, it ensured patients would have unrestricted access to life-saving medicine by granting “protected-class” status to six drug categories, including antidepressants and antipsychotics.
In granting antidepressants and antipsychotics protected-class status, CMS acknowledged that these drugs are chemically distinct and not interchangeable, and patients must have access to the full category of drugs in order to appropriately manage their Illness. In 2010, the unique nature of mental health drugs was reaffirmed when the Affordable Care Act specified that the six protected classes should remain protected.