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July 13, 2005

NAMI Florida Opposes AHCA Decision on Changes to Access to Medications for Mental Illness

TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA—As the state’s largest grassroots mental health organization of people living with mental illnesses, their families and friends, NAMI Florida is gravely concerned about the recent decision by the Florida Legislature and the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) to limit access to life-saving medications for people diagnosed with a mental illness.

The NAMI Florida Board of Directors and its entire membership believe Florida citizens will be deeply and negatively affected by these decisions.

NAMI Florida Board President Judith Evans stated: "This policy decision is not only dangerous and short-sighted, but experience in other states tells us that it will ultimately lead to unintended consequences. They will prove costly to Florida taxpayers and communities as well as disastrous for people living with mental illnesses."

"NAMI Florida and our dedicated grassroots leaders across the state will closely monitor the upcoming transition. We are committed to identifying and reporting the consequences to areas of personal and community health and safety including law enforcement, personal recovery, emergency departments, and negative economic impact to families and our communities."

"NAMI Florida recognizes that the decision demonstrates a retreat from previous policies that acknowledged the unique needs of people living with mental illness to one that sadly puts the short term savings of a few dollars in front of real costs to families, individuals, and our county and city budgets. AHCA has been forced by legislative action to make this choice to focus more on short term budget issues and not enough on the well-being of the people it was established to serve.

Evans concluded: "Although we strongly object to the decision of the Agency to prior-authorize any medications used to treat mental illness, we do extend appreciation for the proposed communications plan for those affected by the changes. As AHCA continues negotiations, we hope that the concerns and needs of those receiving services from the Agency will outweigh political pressure and penny-wise, pound-foolish policy objectives."

NAMI Florida represents a volunteer network of 37 Affiliates throughout the state that provide education, support and recovery services to those living with a mental illness and their families.

 

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