Oncologists jailed for accepting payments for chemo?

That’s what could potentially happen now since the Obama administration has chosen to sequester all cancer care services…including lifesaving chemotherapy drugs.

I normally write about survivorship and give cancer -based health tips, but when I got an e-mail from my oncologist asking me and all her patients to sign a government petition, I felt I had to change my format this once.

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As of April 1st, 2013 Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement for chemo agents given in doctor’s offices and small clinics were cut making it so that the doctors would actually lose money if they chose to treat you with these life-saving drugs.  If you chose to pay the balance, or if the doctor “writes off” the balance or doesn’t charge you, that doctor could face jail time.

So senior patients are being turned away from their chemotherapy treatments.  Some right in the middle of their therapy.

“A lot of us are in disbelief that this is happening,It’s a choice between seeing these patients and staying in business.” said Jeff Varicam chief executive officer of North Shore Hematology Oncology Associates in New York.

To get your chemo treatments you would have to go to a hospital setting where care would be more expensive, putting the burden of paying the balance on the patient .  But the influx of patients needing chemo might break the hospital system as it is estimated that 66% of Medicare patients receive treatment in doctor’s office clinics.

Please read the entire article here in the The Washington Post

Then get on over to the petition here and please make your voice heard.  (You still DO have a choice to sign the petition….today)  Many signatures are still needed to reach a April 27, 2013 goal of 100,000.

This is just the beginning, folks as the effects of Obamacare start rippling across the country. Some say the sequester pushes patients to be treated at the bigger hospital institutions where treatment choice can be better controlled by the government.  Hospitals will choose the services they offer based on the amount of reimbursement they receive from the government.  If hospitals don’t offer the service you need (bone marrow transplant, for example) you won’t be able to get it.

There has to be a better answer…..

UPDATE APRIL 12, 2013

According to a new article, President Obama has proposed a solution to the sequester…I guess we need to stay tuned.

(taken from an article published by Medscape written by Robert Lowes)

President Barack Obama today released a proposed $3.8 trillion budget for fiscal 2014 that would shrink the federal deficit by $1.8 trillion over the course of 10 years, but not on the backs of physicians. Instead, they are on the receiving end of some federal largesse.

For starters, Obama’s deficit reduction, similar to that in the budget plan approved on March 23 by the Democratic-controlled Senate, would replace the automatic, across-the-board cuts called sequestration that include a 2% decrease in Medicare reimbursement for physicians.

In addition, as in previous budget plans, Obama would perform a “doc fix” on the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula for setting Medicare pay rates. That formula, hated by organized medicine, will trigger a 24.4% cut in physician pay on January 1, 2014, unless Congress steps in to prevent a collapse of the federal program. Under the Obama plan, physician pay rates would be frozen at their current level. The administration supports several years of fee-for-service “payment stability” that would give the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services more time to develop various pay-for-performance models from which physicians eventually could choose. The goal is to “provide predictable payments that incentivize quality and efficiency in a fiscally responsible way,” the budget plan states.

 

Here’s a link to the story from the Empowered Doctor website.



Categories: cancer, cancer treatment

Tags: , ,

6 replies

  1. Unbelievable. Scary. Ridiculous. Signing the petition now. Thanks for sharing this information.

  2. The end of your posting appears to shift the blame for this tragedy from Congress to Obamacare. I heard a story on NPR yesterday that put the blame on the sequester and not Obamacare or the Obama administration. It is a 2% across the board cut of Medicare funding that is the root cause here. AARP agrees: http://blog.aarp.org/2013/04/04/sequester-fallout-where-will-medicare-patients-get-chemo/. So do others, including traditionally conservative sources: http://thinkprogress.org/health/2013/04/04/1819811/sequestration-cancer-clinics/?mobile=nc. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/04/03/cancer-clinics-are-turning-away-thousands-of-medicare-patients-blame-the-sequester/. http://www.foxnews.com/on-air/on-the-record/2013/04/05/cancer-clinics-turning-away-medicare-patients-thanks-sequester. Let’s not waste good energy barking up the wrong tree. Congress needs to pass legislation that addresses how spending reductions apply to certain federal government programs. The president appears prepared to sign it if Congress will act.

    • Nope. Not suggesting that Obama is responsible as I know is was a 2011 Congressional law that put these sequesters into affect. Being an RN and being married to a pharmacist who owned his own store for 10 years, I am simply stating that government managed healthcare may not serve patients as seen in this latest act of infinite wisdom.

      Medicare is government managed healthcare and Obamacare is government managed healthcare. That’s all I’m saying.

      I’m not a political blog, so please don’t think I am going to debate you. I am a cancer patient trying to look out for the welfare of the cancer community and this story was sent to me by my healthcare provider and I am passing it on to other cancer bloggers so they be informed as it’s not just a political debate to them but it affects their life.

      I am simply asking people to sign a petition if they want. If you have a link that you would like to share that would help block this sequester, or a link to another petition or information that would help cancer patients, please share it.
      Thanks very much for taking the time to comment!
      Namaste

  3. I’m not sure Victor, I know you have to log in to do so.
    I knew I would draw some political bloggers by my title and content. I don’t wish to play in that sandbox! Hope you are well!

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  1. Sequestration and What it Means for Cancer Patients | Blessings in Disguise

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