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House of Representatives Sends Letter to HHS Calling for the Elimination of Additional Cuts for Cancer Care

Posted Oct 08 2010 2:47pm

Normally I have not been too kind to Congress, mostly in attacking their areas of lacking health IT knowledge, but for a change this is something good that needs a hard look. Oncologists have already been hit and if the continued cuts image occur during the next few year as scheduled, more patients will be going to the hospital for chemotherapy and some treatments may not be available at all.  I know one former oncologist who hung it up over this and went into family practice as he could no longer afford to pay in advance for the expensive drugs and then not even get full reimbursement from insurers and Medicare. 

On the other side of the coin, some pressure for chemotherapy drugs and other related treatments could certainly be explored too and we are seeing some of this with generic cancer medications in the last few years; however, cancer treatment is on the cutting edge and there’s not always time to wait for a generic as the patient may die in the interim.  If you read the notes in the article below, by 2013 Medicare will only be covering less than half the cost.

One insurer, United has been pretty aggressive in this area with the letters and information they sent to oncologists last year advising them how many are “following the rules” and questioning their integrity as well as offering their analyzed data.

Under subsidiary actions United also may have some other interests with their recent purchase of a company in China called China Gate who’s business focus is to get wider distribution globally and in the US, of more Chinese drugs and devices and cancer would be right in there.  This, along with the letters sent to oncologists is under the United subsidiary of Ingenix, pay attention to what company subsidiaries are doing today as much of this activity is somewhat behind the scenes.  Also worth a mention here too are the jobs that are being lost in this area to other countries. 

In the future in order to keep cost down we could be seeing more Chinese cancer drugs being use in a hospital environment and in the last couple years this is a concern as the quality of some of their drugs has been a big issue here in the US and even in a poll in China itself, consumers trusted American drugs over the ones produced in their own country.  It makes one wonder if the US government will be looking at Chinese chemo drugs and follow this direction at some point?  That is just a question that comes to mind here. 

One last note there, this is why it is so important that we have philanthropy groups like stand up to to cancer to keep the drugs and cures rolling.  BD

WASHINGTON – Eighty-five members of the House have submitted a letter to federal officials calling on them to eliminate additional cuts to cancer care proposed in the 2011 physician fee schedule for Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement.

According to the Community Oncology Alliance, the letter is sponsored by Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) and was delivered Wednesday to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Administrator Donald M. Berwick.

The CMS has scheduled reimbursement cuts for 2011, 2012 and 2013, at which time Medicare will cover less than half the cost of these cancer care services, according to the COA.

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