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Association News
APA Honors Member of Congress
Psychiatric News
Volume 44 Number 21 page 6-6

The efforts of a member of Congress to expand patients' access to psychiatric medications led APA to recognize his work with its annual accolade for a public official.

Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) was awarded the Jacob K. Javits Award for Public Service on September 30 to honor his work on behalf of people with mental illness. That included his efforts as a member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee to amend the Medicare Part D prescription-drug program. The Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008 (PL 110-275)—enacted in July 2008—included provisions championed by Doggett to expand Part D coverage to benzodiazepines. Those medications were left out of the original law creating the Medicare drug program because of concerns about their abuse potential.

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Former APA President Carolyn Robinowitz, M.D., presents APA's Jacob K. Javits Award for Public Service to Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) in his district office.

Credit: Office of Rep. Lloyd Doggett

Doggett also amended the measure to require that Part D cover "all or substantially all" medications in both the antipsychotic and antidepressant classes. The prescription-drug program generally allows insurers to offer coverage for only a few drugs within each class, but mental health advocates maintained that when it comes to antidepressants and antipsychotics, patients may have to try several before they find one that works for them.

"Medicare patients need these critical protections in coverage to avoid interruption in care and to remain functional," said Carolyn Robinowitz, M.D., a past APA president who presented the award to Doggett. "Disruptions in psychiatric medication coverage may lead to job loss or reduced productivity, hospitalization, and other costly and avoidable consequences."

Doggett also was recognized as a strong supporter of mental health parity legislation, which was enacted last year.

The Javits award honors the legacy of the late U.S. senator from New York by annually recognizing the work of state or federal officials on behalf of patients with mental illness and the field of psychiatry. Past recipients include former senators Gordon Smith (R-Ore.), Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.), and Pete Domenici (R-N.M.). blacksquare

Anchor for JumpAnchor for Jump

Former APA President Carolyn Robinowitz, M.D., presents APA's Jacob K. Javits Award for Public Service to Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) in his district office.

Credit: Office of Rep. Lloyd Doggett

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