Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What Would Happen if you Had to Jump Through Hoops to Get the Mental Health Medication that Works for you?

NAMI Utah has taken an opposing stance on Senate Bill 85. SB 85 is a bill that will put mental health drugs on the Medicaid Preferred Drug List. You can read the bill in it's entirety here.

Some history on the bill: In 2007, the Utah Medicaid Program implemented a "Preferred Drug List" which included an exemption for psychotropic or antipsychotic drugs. 

NAMI Utah has been involved with this discussion to maintain the exemption for medications used to treat mental illness for many years now. This exemption is critical in keeping those who live with mental illness healthy and productive. 

NAMI takes an opposing position to this bill because treatment does work if people can access it. Having access to the medications this vulnerable population needs based on their physician's best clinical judgement can make all the difference in the outcomes for people and in helping them live full and productive lives in the community.
You cannot simply look at pharmacy costs in treating mental illness. It costs the state $3,200 to maintain someone with serious mental illness in the community. It costs the same amount to hospitalize someone for three days. That can be just one medication change. Individuals living with serious mental illness have complex conditions that require individualized treatment. Adding a level of bureaucracy to the process of accessing medications will be a deterrent to individuals complying.
It is important to note that two very expensive (and effective) psychotropics have gone generic this year (Zyprexa, Seroquel). This is significant because this shows how the market takes care of itself to regulate these medications, and their costs.
Talking points to use in your conversation to your Senator: 

1.) Mental illness and the medications for treatment can be very complicated.  Missed doses, discontinuation, or changes in doses or specific medication can result in serious relapses which can result in devastating consequences for individuals, families and our communities. 

2.) Prescribers must be able to use their best clinical judgment when prescribing psychotropic medications.  With mental illness, people often have to try many medications and different combinations to find relief of their symptoms and to move on to recovery. 

3.) Because compliance is critical for treatment success, side effects can be very serious, and there is not a “one-size-fits all” solution, medications for mental illness should remain exempt from the Preferred Drug List. 

Please write to your legislators and tell them to oppose SB 85. Need help finding your legislator? Click here to search by your district.

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