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Medicare To Drop Entire Class Of Anxiety, Seizure Meds
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
July 6, 2005

WASHINGTON, DC--Beginning the first of next year, nearly two million low-income seniors and people with disabilities who receive federal Medicare benefits will be forced to pay more for a class of medications used to treat anxiety disorders and epileptic seizures.

According to the Associated Press, Medicare Part D will stop covering the cost of benzodiazepines, including Xanax, Valium, and Ativan, on January 1. While many people on Medicare, a federal health care program, also have Medicaid, which is a joint federal and state program, the states are not required to cover benzodiazepines. In some states, Medicare enrollees who don't qualify for Medicaid would have to pay for the drugs on their own, find a replacement that would be part of the new Medicare benefit, or pay higher premiums for additional prescription coverage.

Last year, more than 75 million prescriptions were written for benzodiazepines nationwide.

The Medicare Rights Center is asking Congress to change the law to provide coverage for the drugs, saying that it could be dangerous for some patients to stop the medication.

"The benzodiazapine exclusion raises serious concerns that people with Medicare who sign up for Part D plans will receive inappropriate care for conditions that are common in older and disabled adults," the group said.

Related:
"Federal benefit won't cover anxiety drugs" (Associated Press via CNN)

http://www.cnn.com/2005/HEALTH/06/27/medicare.drugs.ap/index.html
Medicare Rights Center
http://www.medicarerights.org

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