Thursday, April 04, 2013

The Sequester Is Cancer's Best Friend

All hail our kind and compassionate GOP:
The sequester was not supposed to directly effect Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries. In terms of benefits, that's pretty much true, but there's one very cruel exception: cancer treatments. The treatments are covered under Part B of Medicare instead of other drugs which are in Part D. That's because physicians have to administer them directly, and the two percent sequester cuts apply to Part B. The cuts, coupled with the extremely high cost of chemotherapy drugs, means community cancer clinics are turning away thousands of cancer patients.
Patients at these clinics would need to seek treatment elsewhere, such as at hospitals that might not have the capacity to accommodate them.

“If we treated the patients receiving the most expensive drugs, we’d be out of business in six months to a year,” said Jeff Vacirca, chief executive of North Shore Hematology Oncology Associates in New York. “The drugs we’re going to lose money on we’re not going to administer right now.”

After an emergency meeting Tuesday, Vacirca’s clinics decided that they would no longer see one-third of their 16,000 Medicare patients.

“A lot of us are in disbelief that this is happening,” he said. “It’s a choice between seeing these patients and staying in business.”

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