Executive Director of NAMI Louisiana
Jumping Over a Dollar to Pick Up a Nickel
How mental health policies, including the new Medicare Part D proposed rule, sacrifice patient outcomes and long-term cost control for short-term savings
There is an expression I use—jumping over a dollar to pick up a nickel—that describes ignoring one reward in pursuit of another, smaller prize. Blinded by the appeal of the shiny nickel, we ignore the dollar right beneath our feet. Too often, our nation’s mental health policies are driven by such short-sighted mentality; and too frequently, people with mental health disorders suffer as a result.
When the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced a Medicare Part D proposed rule, one which would restrict beneficiaries’ access to important antidepressants and antipsychotics, I was disappointed to see yet another example of this reckless mindset. For while restricting formularies is often proposed as a way to control health care costs, we know that denying patients’ access to the full category of drugs often leads to worsening conditions and increased health costs down the road.
That’s because every human being’s brain is different and responds to treatment in different ways. If there are 20 different drugs for schizophrenia and the formulary is cut to just the four cheapest, we put individuals at great risk, and society incurs the associated health costs of untreated and uncontrolled mental illness.