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.
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.