National Alliance on Mental Illness
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NAMI POLICY RESEARCH INSTITUTE
STATE ACTION ALERT
February 21, 2003
NAMI BOARD OF DIRECTORS POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS
ON ACCESS TO MEDICATIONS:
GUIDANCE FOR ADVOCATES
The NAMI Board of Directors has recently adopted a comprehensive federal and state strategy to ensure open access to medications in the current budget deficit environment.
Prior authorization and other cost containment mechanisms have appeared in state legislation, appropriation bills and regulations and pose significant threats for Medicaid recipients with mental illnesses trying to access medications prescribed by their treating physician.
We believe the following, primary approaches are critically important to the financial health of your state and to your public mental health system:
In addition to the these policy recommendations, NAMI advocates should try to make the link between tax and revenue decisions and spending decisions, and help legislators develop credible and principled revenue solutions that are fair, broad-based. NAMI recognizes that the state’ tax revenues have been falling sharply and Medicaid costs are increasing dramatically. However, policymakers should not balance state budgets on the backs of its most vulnerable citizens by limiting access to medications which is essential for recovery from mental illness. Limiting access may result short-term budget gains, but denying necessary treatments will show up in other areas of the state budget.
NAMI’s Policy Research Institute has developed five state alerts on the four major policy areas the NAMI Board of Directors addressed, as well as state tax issues. We hope these bulletins provide you with appropriate guidance for your discussions with state officials.
The Institute has also prepared a draft statement or testimony that can be tailored by advocates for use before legislative hearings, press conferences, P&T Committees and other meetings.