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Kansas Senate Rejects Bill Controlling Mental Health Drugs

Steve Snodgrass, flickr Creative Commons

The Kansas Senate has rejected a bill to give the state's Medicaid program more control over costly mental health drugs.

The vote yesterday was 25-15 against the bill.

Senators who opposed it said they are concerned about mentally ill participants in the Medicaid program not getting the drugs they need.

The state's $3 billion-a-year Medicaid program provides health coverage for 368,000 needy and disabled state residents.

The bill would repeal a 2002 law that prohibits Medicaid from controlling prescriptions of mental health drugs with preferred drug lists, prior authorization requirements or other methods.

Several supporters of the bill said the measure wasn't primarily about saving money but about protecting mentally ill Medicaid participants, particularly children, from being over-medicated with drugs that can have dangerous side effects.

Governor Sam Brownback's administration was pushing the measure because it believes the state could save $16 million a year on drugs.