Medicare and cancer care

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DEAR EDITOR:
Medicare patients should be pleased that Congress is working to
develop a bipartisan prescription drug benefit.
DEAR EDITOR:

Medicare patients should be pleased that Congress is working to develop a bipartisan prescription drug benefit. However, beneficiaries with cancer should be alarmed that one provision in the legislation threatens access to community-based cancer care.

Medicare currently makes two payments for chemotherapy and supportive drugs. One payment is for the drugs; the second is for administering drugs. This system of reimbursement is severely flawed. Medicare currently overpays for drugs, which results in inflated beneficiary co-payments. However, Medicare also underpays for the services of oncologists, nurses, pharmacists and other professionals involved in the delivery of quality cancer care. Congress should reform the system to more accurately reflect the actual cost of providing care.

Instead, the proposals being considered will significantly reduce Medicare payments for drugs without adequately increasing payments for professional services. The resulting net cuts will undoubtedly impact patient access to community-based cancer care.

Nancy Davenport-Ennis, President and Chief Executive Officer, National Patient Advocate Foundation

Submitted Monday, Aug. 4 to [email protected]

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