Monday, March 10, 2014

CMS Withdraws Proposal Limiting Access to Psychiatric Drugs in Part D

APA applauds the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for dropping its plan to make changes to its Medicare Part D prescription program that would have eliminated protected status for certain antidepressants and, in the future, antipsychotics. The plan was met with heavy bipartisan opposition on Capitol Hill as well as from APA, patient groups, and other medical and mental health organizations that argued that it would severely limit access to valuable medications needed by Medicare beneficiaries. APA recently submitted letters to the CMS and Congress on the evidence base for continuing the protections afforded antidepressants and antipsychotics used for the treatment of Medicare beneficiaries. Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) quoted APA's letter in his questioning of a CMS official in which he strongly opposed the agency's proposed removal of protected status for the two classes of psychiatric drugs.

Today CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner wrote, “We will engage in further stakeholder input before advancing some or all of the changes in these areas in future years.... We are committed to continuing to work with Congress to continue to ensure that Parts C and D work best for Medicare beneficiaries.”

“I am delighted to report that APA has been successful in its efforts to help sustain full access to the psychotropic medications for Medicare patients,” said APA President Jeffrey Lieberman, M.D. “Today’s decision by CMS corrects what could have been an unwarranted limitation to the quality of mental health care. Thanks also to Congressman Tim Murphy for his vigorous actions to support psychiatrists and patients with mental illness.”

“We are pleased to see that CMS recognized the potential harm inherent in its proposal to remove the protections currently afforded to antidepressant and antipsychotic medications in Medicare Part D," said APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A. "This is the right decision for Medicare beneficiaries, who will now retain access to these valuable medications.”

Medicare's Part D program has six protected drug categories. CMS proposed eliminating two of those starting in 2015—antidepressant drugs and those that help suppress the immune system. The agency also said in its draft rule proposing to eliminate the classes that it was considering dropping protected status for antipsychotic drugs in 2016.


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