Of course, I know some of you are thinking that people on Medicare and Medicaid can just buy their own antidepressant and immunosuppressant drugs, but you forget that a Social Security monthly check is not even enough to live on.
New Medicare Rules Could Increase Seniors' Suicides
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has proposed a new regulation limiting the drugs covered under Medicare's Part D, the prescription drug component of the program — a rule that could have "serious consequences."
Currently, Part D plans must include medications in six drug categories. But with the new regulation, published in the Federal Register in January, CMS would no longer require all drugs from the antidepressant and immunosuppressant drug classes to be covered by Part D.
"Seniors would no longer necessarily have access to insurance for these drugs, with serious consequences," Diana Furchtgott-Roth, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, wrote in an article published by RealClearMarkets.
"Depression is the most frequent mental health problem in the elderly, and lack of treatment can lead to suicide," she observed. "Depressed patients can cause difficulties for family members and caregivers."
Immunosuppressant drugs are used to prevent the body from rejecting a transplanted organ, and cutting back on these drugs would make transplants more risky and less successful.
CMS calculates that disallowing drugs in those two classes would save $720 million from 2015, when the regulation would take effect, to 2019. That's just $144 million a year, two-tenths of one percent of net Medicare outlays in 2019.
"Reducing access to major classes of drugs that were required from the beginning of the Part D program would cut Medicare costs by shortening seniors' lives, but that is not the direction in which our society wants to go," Furchtgott-Roth said, adding that the regulation "should be changed" before it becomes final.