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Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

National Council to Host Stakeholder Call on Medicare Part D Drug Access

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On Friday, February 21st at 3:00 p.m. eastern, the National Council will host a national open-to-the-public policy call for attendees to learn more about a recent proposal that will make it harder for Medicare beneficiaries to access certain Part D drugs.

On January 10, 2014, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published a proposed rule that would weaken the agency’s current policy requiring Medicare Part D plans to cover all medications within six “protected classes.” CMS proposes to eliminate protected status for antidepressants and immunosuppressants in 2015 and antipsychotics in future years. Other classes of drugs, including medications for the treatment of HIV, cancer, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy, could be next.

This call will provide information and answers related to this proposed policy shift, as well as offer suggestions for how individuals and stakeholder groups can weigh into the process. Please join us in fighting back against these harmful proposed changes! Click here to register for the 30-minute call.

Congressional Leaders Weigh In

The CMS proposed rule has generated substantial opposition among stakeholders and elected officials. Most recently, three House and Senate committee leaders sent a letter to CMS pointing out the numerous negative effects the rule would have on seniors and people with disabilities who rely on Part D for prescription drugs.

In their letter, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Ranking Member on the Senate Finance Committee; Rep. Dave Camp, Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee; and Rep. Fred Upton, Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee write, “CMS is proposing to fundamentally undermine the program and jeopardize the prescription drug plans that millions of seniors rely on for their health and peace of mind… Given the important legal questions and irreparable harm facing seniors across the country, we request that you reject these harmful changes to the Part D program and withdraw this proposed regulation. A failure to reject this rule will force Congress to evaluate all legislative options necessary to ensure seniors are protected.”

The letter follows on the heels of a unanimous Senate Finance Committee letter last week urging CMS to maintain the six protected classes policy “as it exists today.”