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Senate Moves on Medicare Legislation - Support Improvements to Part D and Parity for Outpatient Mental Illness Treatment

June 12, 2008

Next week the Senate is expected to take up legislation to make long overdue improvements to the Medicare program.  A bipartisan package of reforms developed by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) would add critical beneficiary protections to the Part D prescription drug benefit and require parity for cost sharing for outpatient mental health services.

Action Required

Advocates are strongly encouraged to contact their senators to urge them to support the Medicare Improvement for Patients and Providers Act (S 3101).  Remind your senators that S 3101 would:

  • Address the discriminatory 50% cost sharing requirement for outpatient mental illness treatment, gradually lowering it to 20% as required for all other medical treatment,
  • Amend the Medicare Part D benefit to ensure that prescription drug plan must maintain broad access on their formularies to medications to treat serious mental illness (including antipsychotics, antidepressants and anticonvulsants),
  • Restore coverage under Part D for benzodiazepines,
  • Enact a series of reforms that would allow more low-income beneficiaries to qualify for the Part D Low-Income Subsidy (LIS) and thereby avoid the program’s “doughnut hole” coverage gap, and
  • Expand the Medicare rural hospital FLEX program to authorize grants to increase access to mental illness treatment services for veterans in rural and frontier communities.

View NAMI’s letter of support for S 3101 .

View additional background on S 3101 .