Kansas health regulators want tougher regulations around mental health drugs for Medicaid patients

March 07, 2015

Kansas health regulators have been working to repeal a 2002 law that prohibits the state from regulating mental health drugs used for treating Medicaid patients. Meanwhile, the state can regulate other drugs for treating heart disease, high blood pressure or cancer. A spokeswoman for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment said the current situation is akin to "the Wild West of behavioral healthcare drugs, where anything can be prescribed at any time with little oversight." Repealing the law would allow the state require prior authorization for prescriptions that could pose safety risks or be more expensive. It maintains that the move could potentially save the state about $7 million, a figure contested by mental health advocates. The Senate has already voted down repealing the law after questions arose about whether Medicaid patients would be adequately safeguarded by the legislation. While the state promised to put protections in place for Medicaid patients, lawmakers want more specifics, indicating that the bill was too open-ended and gave state health officials too much latitude.