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  1. Hensley, Melissa Anne PhD, LCSW


Purpose/objectives: The purpose of this study was to examine the experiences and opinions of community-based mental health case managers with the Medicare prescription drug benefit. A qualitative approach, consisting of analysis of data from 3 case manager focus groups, was used to achieve an understanding of the role that case managers played in beneficiaries' access to and use of prescription medicines.


Primary practice settings: Two urban nonprofit community-based mental health agencies.


Findings/conclusions: Adults who are disabled by mental illness depend on case managers for information about their prescription drug insurance, help with formulary and plan switching information, and assistance with tasks related to medication adherence in the community. Common themes in the case managers' discussion were managing beneficiary problems, stress for beneficiaries, information and paperwork issues, and cynicism regarding health care reform.


Implications for case management practice: The critical role of case managers in the use of Medicare Part D is not well understood or appreciated. Case managers need to be informed about Medicare Part D and ready to advocate for their clients in the community. In addition, it is important for case managers to understand how Medicare Part D affects not only older adults, but also adults living with serious and persistent mental illness.