WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Thom Tillis applauded the Senate Finance Committee’s recent unanimous vote in support of the Better Mental Health Care, Lower Drug Cost and Extenders Act. The legislation includes many of Senator Tillis’ policy priorities and proposals, including expanding mental health care and substance use disorder services under Medicaid and Medicare, reducing prescription drug costs for seniors at the pharmacy counter, extending essential Medicaid and Medicare provisions that will expire this year, and increasing Medicare payments to support physicians and other providers.
“This bipartisan legislation will provide savings to consumers, ensure access to critical mental health services, and increase accountability for federal health programs,” said Senator Tillis. “I am proud this legislation includes a number of my priorities aimed at improving health care for North Carolinians, and I look forward to supporting it when it comes before the full Senate for a vote.”
Specifically, the Better Mental Health Care, Lower Drug Cost and Extenders Act:
- Requires enhanced and accurate lists of Medicare Advantage plans and verification of provider directory information at least every 90 days through the REAL Health Providers Act introduced by Senator Tillis;
- Improves access to mental health service for Medicare beneficiaries;
- Protects seniors from excessive cost-sharing for certain medicines by requiring post-deductible enrollee coinsurance for certain covered Part D drugs to be based on net prices rather than negotiated prices, based on Senator Tillis’ Share the Savings with Seniors Act;
- Supports states in providing mental health and substance use care for children and youth;
- Delays Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) payment reductions under the Medicaid Program. This provision delays DSH payment cuts for one year, providing relief for hospitals that treat large numbers of low-income Medicaid patients;
- Increases support for physicians and other professionals adjusting to Medicare payment changes by replacing the statutory increase of 1.25% for Medicare physician fee schedule services furnished in 2024 with 2.50% for that year;
- Averts cuts to clinical laboratory reimbursement by delaying for one year the reductions in the Medicare clinical laboratory fee schedule (CLFS).
Recent Finance Committee health care efforts have drawn support from a strong coalition of organizations, including the Alliance for Transparent and Affordable Prescriptions; the Alliance of Community Health Plans; the Arthritis Foundation; the Coalition of State Rheumatological Organizations; the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation; the National Community Pharmacists Association; the National Consumers League; and a large coalition of patient groups. This legislation is supported by the American Association of Senior Citizens; American College of Physicians; American Hospital Association; American Pharmacists Association; American Psychiatric Association; Bipartisan Policy Center; CIVICA; Food Industry Association; Leukemia & Lymphoma Society; National Association of Manufacturers; National Association of Specialty Pharmacy; National Council for Mental Wellbeing; and a large coalition of groups.
A section-by-section analysis of the bill can be found HERE.