Low pay for mental health treatment is a major Medicare shortcoming

LETTER — Posted June 5, 2006

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Regarding "Medicare pay formula: Overhaul is needed" (Editorial, Feb. 27): I was distressed that your editorial did not cite the glaring discrimination in Medicare reimbursement that cries out for remediation. I am referring to the lack of parity in payment for mental health claims.

They are paid only 50% of the allowed amount, causing seniors to forgo access to care. While JAMA's 2003 theme issue was on depression, confirming its commonality, severity and costs as one of the most disabling disorders facing the nation, it seems that this is easily forgotten.

Several studies have subsequently been published that show depression's link with cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.

It seems imperative to offer psychiatric help to all on an equal footing with other acute and chronic diseases.

Cassandra M. Klyman, MD, Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2006/06/05/edlt0605.htm.

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