Cancer treatment providers have broken ranks with other healthcare providers and have launched a campaign to exempt cancer-fighting drugs from Medicare sequestration cuts.
The spin on the story, however, is not that the oncology industry is seeking special treatment, but that the cuts affect their sizable portion of the healthcare pie the most and as a result, thousands of patients won’t get treatment.
“Cancer clinics are turning away thousands of Medicare patients,” reads the Washington Post headline. “Blame the sequester.” According to the article, the sequester cuts of 2 percent on Medicare reimbursements that went into effect on April 1 “makes it impossible to administer expensive chemotherapy drugs while staying afloat financially.”
The Post article came out within hours of the release of a joint press release from Community Oncology Alliance, American Society of Clinical Oncology, International Oncology Network/AmerisourceBergen, and the US Oncology Network, which in turn directed readers to a joint statement by the cancer organizations. The lead organization, the Community Oncology Alliance, has launched a website to support its battle in Congress to restore funding.
The solution, according to oncology organizations, is to exempt the cancer treatment industry from Medicare cuts. “CMS has the authority to exempt cancer drugs from the sequester cut or to apply the 2 percent sequester cut only to the 6 percent services payment,” according to the joint statement. “Congress can pass H.R. 800 to bring Medicare drug reimbursement closer to costs in order to sustain community cancer care.”