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Medicare Plans May Limit Drug Choice

Following the example of private companies, Medicare is moving to limit the number of drug brands it will cover. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have proposed to allow private prescription-drug plans under Medicare Part D to cover only some of the antidepressants on the market, not all, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

According to the nonprofit Geriatric Mental Health Foundation, about 6 million of the 40 million Americans older than 65 suffer from depression.

CMS officials said the changes would “Improve healthcare quality, reduce costs for Medicare beneficiaries … and combat fraud, waste and abuse.” The proposed changes would take effect beginning in 2015.

Opponents say that removing antidepressants from the protected list would hinder the treatment of depression. A patient may need to try multiple medications to find one that works, they said.

Originally founded in December 2006 as an independent grassroots publication dedicated to coverage of health issues in Florida, Health News Florida was acquired by WUSF Public Media in September 2012.