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Bush Chemotherapy Cut May Drive Medicare Patients to Hospitals

  • August 5th, 2004

The Bush administration has announced a proposal to reduce by as much as 89 percent Medicare reimbursements to doctors for 30 kinds of cancer and respiratory drugs.

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services administrator Mark McClellan said the proposed reimbursement reductions, which would affect intravenous chemotherapy and other treatments that must be administered in doctors' offices, could save Medicare $16 billion over 10 years.

But advocates for cancer patients and doctors are concerned that the proposed reductions could make it too expensive for doctors to provide some treatments in their offices, forcing their patients to go to the hospital for care, which would result in higher Medicare costs. (See "Cancer Doctors Claim New Medicare Law May Devastate Care," ElderLawAnswers, March 12, 2004.)

Ellen Stovall, president and CEO of the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship, said, "Our concern is that whatever cost savings may be realized will come at the expense of quality care for patients."

"With this magnitude of cut, I don't see how a practice can survive taking care of Medicare patients," said David Johnson, a Nashville physician who is president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

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Last Modified: 08/05/2004

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