Cancer patients receiving chemotherapy have not noticed a restriction in their access to treatment following the enactment of the Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003 (MMA), despite the act's significant reduction in government reimbursement to oncologists, according to a new study from the Duke Clinical Research Institute (Cancer 110:2304-2312, 2007).
The researchers examined results of 1,421 surveys completed via the Internet by 684 patients who had received chemotherapy prior to MMA enactment and 737 who were treated afterward.
"The majority of patients in each group reported being either satisfied or very satisfied with the care they received from their oncologists," said senior investigator Kevin Schulman, MD, director of the DCRI's Center for Clinical and Genetic Economics.
Further, there was no difference in the amount of time from diagnosis to treatment or in average travel time.
"When the act was passed, many were concerned about the consolidation of services it might necessitate, such as the moving of chemotherapy services to hospital rather than outpatient settings and the elimination of staff positions," said lead author Joelle Friedman, a DCRI researcher. "They were afraid these changes would affect patients' access to care, but our study showed these concerns turned out to be largely unwarranted."