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ACS CAN: Six Protected Classes Policy Change Proposal Would Erect Barriers to Cancer Care for Nation’s Seniors

March 7, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. – March 10, 2014 – The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) Friday filed comments with the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services expressing concern that the proposed changes to the drug categories or “six protected classes” in Medicare Part D could undermine the intended purpose of the original policy that was adopted when Medicare Part D was first implemented in 2006 – to ensure patients have access to the drugs they need. 

ACS CAN’s comments urge CMS to reject the proposed policy to remove antidepressants and immunosuppressants from the list of protected classes in 2015, as change could hinder access to vitally important medications and negatively impact a cancer patient’s overall health and wellbeing. With approximately one-quarter of cancer patients experiencing depression, access to a comprehensive range of antidepressants is critical so that doctors can determine which medications work best for individual patients.  Immunosuppressants are also critical for bone marrow transplant recipients to help to prevent transplant rejection. 

The comment letter acknowledges the need for balanced policies, but expresses concern that CMS’ proposal on improper prescribing practices could make doctors overcautious and, in turn, negatively impact patient access to necessary pain medications.

ACS CAN does support a number of provisions in the proposed rule, including many of the consumer protections. 

For a full copy of the comments, visit:

Alissa Crispino or Steven Weiss
American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
Phone: (202) 661-5772 or (202) 661-5711
Email: or

#acscan #cancer #Medicare #PartD #Protectedclasses

For media inquiries, please contact:
Alissa Crispino
Phone: (202) 661-5772

Jill Courtney
Phone: (202) 585-3278

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