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ARLINGTON, Va., March 10, 2014 — The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) today issued the following statement by NAMI Executive Director Mary Giliberti in response to the announcement by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) that it will not move forward to "finalize" proposed rule changes under Medicare Part D that would have restricted access to antidepressant and antipsychotic medications:
"Less than one full working day since the official comment period on the proposed rule ended and one day before the House of Representatives is set to vote on a bill to block the proposed changes, HHS's Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has indicated that it has heard the concerns of people living with mental illness and others over the elimination of three protected drug classifications under Medicare Part D.
"In a letter to members of Congress, CMS has recognized 'the complexities of these issues and stakeholder input' and declared that it 'does not plan to finalize the proposal at this time.' The agency has promised not to advance 'some or all of the changes' in the future without first receiving additional stakeholder 'input.'
"For now, for people living with mental illness the crisis has been averted. The threat of restricted access has essentially been stopped—although we will continue to support the pending legislation currently scheduled for a vote on Tuesday, March 11, if House leaders decide to complete that process.
"We thank CMS for responding to the concerns of individuals and families affected by mental illness and both thank and congratulate the thousands of individuals who responded to NAMI's call by submitting official comments or signing NAMI's online petition in opposition to the proposed rule. NAMI will of course continue working to protect access to necessary medications in all health care programs, whether today or in the future."
NAMI is the nation's largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.