ARLINGTON, Va. – Today the American Psychiatric Association (APA) endorsed new Senate legislation that would require Medicare Part D plans to provide robust coverage for six classes of medications, including drugs needed to treat depression and schizophrenia. The bill was introduced earlier today by U.S. Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio.
If passed, the legislation would prevent the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) from implementing rules putting restrictions on those classes of medication outside of the formal regulatory process—medications that are needed by the most vulnerable patients. In January 2014, CMS had proposed rules that could have limited “protected class” status, but decided not to pursue them in the face of public opposition, led by APA, medical societies, patient advocates, and other allied stakeholders.
The Grassley-Brown bill would require protected class status for antipsychotics, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, antineoplastics, antiretrovirals, and immunosuppressants, meaning that all or substantially all of the drugs in these categories are available to patients.
“We applaud this bipartisan legislation, which will ensure that Medicare patients will continue to have coverage for these needed medications,” said APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A. “We thank Senator Grassley and Senator Brown for their leadership on this important issue. The legislation would protect our nation’s most vulnerable citizens who depend on these life-saving treatments for depression, schizophrenia and other serious and chronic illnesses.”
The American Psychiatric Association is a national medical specialty society whose physician members specialize in the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and research of mental illnesses, including substance use disorders. Visit the APA at www.psychiatry.org.