Thank you for taking action to preserve access to medication.
Dear Administrator Verma,
As a participant in the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, I am writing to you today as someone who cares deeply about ensuring access to the right medicines through an important Medicare provision, the Six Protected Classes. While I appreciate that CMS is taking steps to address the cost of prescription medications, I'm concerned that this latest proposal will unwind some important patient protections and undermine access to medications for beneficiaries with the most complex conditions, like me.
The drugs that are covered within the Six Protected Classes are there because many beneficiaries requiring these treatments live with major depressive and bipolar disorder. These patients often need to work with their doctor to determine which drug or drugs will work best for their condition while considering other physical or mental ailments and prescriptions. Sometimes, this requires trying several drugs before the best fit is found. Most often, but not always, this is actually a low-cost generic. Allowing new limitations on the Six Protected Classes policy simply reduces access to the full range of necessary treatment options and would restrict physicians' ability to properly care for their patients' unique situation.
While I care deeply about ensuring the Part D program succeeds in its mission to provide access to life-saving treatment, I also know that Medicare needs to remain financially stable for future generations. Indeed, the program has shown it is capable of reducing overall health costs by promoting better patient outcomes. However, I believe CMS's latest proposal fails to strike the right balance. Savings gained by restricting access to drugs in the Six Protected Classes will only lead to additional costs for patients, providers, and taxpayers when insufficient drug choices lead to hospitalizations and other costly medical setbacks. Additionally, weakening the protection for these classes could prevent Medicare beneficiaries from accessing the full range of treatment options, regardless of their medical history or provider's best judgement.
Today, the Six Protected Classes policy guarantees that Medicare patients can get the treatment they need without being forced to jump through a maze of hoops. I hope the agency will think about the potential harm this new proposal could cause vulnerable patients and reconsider adding any new exceptions to the Six Protected Classes policy.
Thank you for your attention to this important issue.