There's some little-noticed good news for patients in the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008 that became law with Congress's override of President Bush's veto on Tuesday: Medicare beneficiaries in need of mental health services will soon face lower coinsurance payments and will have improved access to certain medications.
"We're going to save lives with this bill," says Nada Stotland, president of the American Psychiatric Association. The new law reduces the out-of-pocket cost for outpatient mental health services from the current 50 percent coinsurance payment to a 20 percent copay—matching the copay required for other types of medical care—by the year 2014. The reduction in beneficiaries' out-of-pocket costs will be phased in. Medicare recipients will continue to pay a 50 percent copay until 2010; in 2010 and 2011, they'll pay 45 percent; in 2012, 40 percent; in 2013, 35 percent; and in 2014, they'll have a 20 percent copay.
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