Congress is considering a Medicare prescription drug bill that
will cut $16 billion of Medicare funding for cancer care-a
reduction of about 30% per year-over the next 10 years, according
to estimates released by the Congressional Budget Office.
Of all new cancers diagnosed each year in the United States, 60%
occur among Medicare beneficiaries. If the proposed legislation is
passed, government reimbursement for cancer therapies will fall far
below the cost of providing care, placing tremendous strain on the
community-based cancer care delivery system.
"While the cancer community appreciates the importance of a
prescription drug benefit and applauds the efforts of Congress to provide
better health-care coverage to seniors, the cancer care cuts in the
Medicare bill would be detrimental to seniors battling cancer," said
Ted Okon, coexecutive director of the Community Oncology Alliance,
which represents community-based cancer clinics across the nation
Both the House and Senate versions of the legislation severely reduce
funding for cancer drugs, while inadequately reimbursing for essential
medical services required by cancer patients. If Congress passes legislation
with the proposed cancer care cuts, millions of seniors will suffer
hardships related to accessing essential cancer care in their communities.
"Today, more than 80% of cancer care is provided in a convenient,
high-quality, and cost-effective community-based setting," said Steve
Coplon, coexecutive director of the Community Oncology Alliance.
"The proposed legislation will close many clinics nationwide, forcing
cancer patients-especially those who live in rural areas-to travel
long distances searching for treatment. What's more, the cancer care
facilities that are left will be overcrowded with patients from clinics
that have shut down, delaying crucial, life-saving care for patients."