LANDOVER, Md. — The Epilepsy Foundation applauds the Administration for pulling back harmful provisions proposed last November that would have impeded access to life-changing, oftentimes life-saving, anticonvulsants for the 1.1 million Medicare beneficiaries living with epilepsy. In the finalized Medicare Part D rule released Thursday, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) codified the existing Medicare Six Protected Classes policy — affirming the policy's importance for people with complex acute and chronic health conditions, including epilepsy.
"The epilepsy community spoke up loudly against this proposal and we are grateful that the Administration heard us," said Philip M. Gattone, M.Ed., president and CEO of the Epilepsy Foundation. "For people living with epilepsy, there is no 'one-size-fits-all' anticonvulsant, and treatment is highly individualized. People with epilepsy need access to the full range of anticonvulsants so that they — along with their healthcare provider — can identify and remain on the medication(s) that helps them achieve seizure control. Preserving this important policy will enable that to happen."
CMS established the Six Protected Classes policy to ensure that Medicare Part D beneficiaries living with serious and complex health care needs — such as epilepsy, HIV, mental illness, cancer, and organ transplants — have meaningful and timely access to the full range of approved medications necessary to manage their conditions and maintain their quality of life. Since November 2018, when the proposed rule to weaken the Six Protected Classes Policy was published, the Foundation engaged in a multi-faceted advocacy campaign to educate the public, lawmakers, and members of the Administration about the importance of preserving the original intent of the policy.
"We are incredibly grateful to the epilepsy community for their support and for staying engaged on this issue, as well as to our coalition partners and members of Congress who expressed concerns," said Gattone.
Epilepsy advocates took action by submitting more than 870 comments to the Department of Health and Human Services on the proposed rule and by sending 3,671 letters to their U.S. Representatives and Senators asking Congress to help stop the rule. Together, these actions helped the Administration understand the importance of the Six Protected Classes policy.
According to the World Health Organization, epilepsy is the most common serious brain disorder worldwide with no age, racial, social class, national or geographic boundaries. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) estimates that 3.4 million people in the United States are affected by epilepsy. It is the underlying tendency of the brain to produce seizures which are sudden abnormal bursts of electrical energy that disrupt brain functions.
About the Epilepsy Foundation
With a network of nearly 50 partners throughout the United States, the Foundation connects people to treatment, support and resources; leads advocacy efforts; funds innovative research and the training of specialists; and educates the public about epilepsy and seizure first aid. For more than five decades, the Epilepsy Foundation has shone a light on epilepsy to promote awareness and understanding, and to advocate for laws that matter to people with epilepsy, while also funding $65 million for epilepsy research and supporting 3,076 epilepsy investigators and specialists in their early careers. Over the past 17 years, in partnership with the CDC, the Epilepsy Foundation has helped to improve access to care for people with epilepsy, expanded its digital reach and online resources in homes across the country, and trained more than 500,000 school and community personnel in how to recognize seizures and administer seizure first aid. The Foundation has also assisted more than 108,000 people through its 24/7 Helpline in the past five years, and continues to focus on innovation, new therapies, community services, advocacy and education as key priorities. To learn more visit epilepsy.com or call 1.800.332.1000. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
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