Proposed Medicare Cancer Cuts Are Deadly
A proposed $300 million cut in cancer services for Medicare and Medicaid patients would mean drastically reduced diagnostic procedures that could save patients’ lives, according to a professional association.
The Radiation Therapy Alliance, a nonprofit, nationwide group of community-based cancer care facilities, said that the cuts, proposed by the Center of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) would lead to “disastrous” consequences. Those include, the RTA said in a statement, “cancer center closures, lack of access to services, and potentially worsened outcomes and survival rates for very common – and treatable – forms of cancer.”
Under the 2013 Physician Fee Proposed Schedule Rule, a move by CMS designed to rework payments to doctors, severe cuts would be made in two diagnostic codes that are often used in connection with radiation payments. The cuts, the RTA said, would amount to 40 percent of the funding of treatment for those codes.
The RTA also said the proposed cuts would reduce the number of freestanding radiation clinics by 19 percent and warned that the overall $300 million figure would also affect the quality of equipment used to diagnose and treat patients.
“The real issue here is patient care, and potentially reversing years of progress in the war on cancer,” RTA member Dr. Chris Rose said in a statement. “Over the past three decades, the survival rate for many cancer patients has increased steadily, thanks to advances in and availability of groundbreaking treatments like radiation therapy. There’s a better way – and better policy – for CMS to consider in order to improve the outlook and economic sustainability for the future of cancer care.”