Advocacy Watch

Welcome to Advocacy Watch, a collaborative effort of Vital Options International and the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship that presents Group Room listeners with news and information about issues facing cancer survivors and their families.



Advocacy Watch:  Aug 17, 2003
 
 
Medicare Reimbursement for Chemotherapy
-- Bill Schmidt, Chief Operating Officer, National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship
Tomorrow, Monday, August 18th, Congress will return from its August recess and begin debate on two issues that could adversely affect access to cancer care in the near future.

Both issues concern government reimbursement for cancer drugs under Medicare. Both issues require your immediate attention.

One deals with the new class of oral medications that can offer many cancer patients effective therapy, convenient use and enhanced quality of life, but are not covered by Medicare since they're taken orally rather than through traditional intravenous chemotherapy.

The second issue could have even more serious consequences for older adults on Medicare, since Congress is proposing cutting reimbursement for all cancer drugs.

You can do something now to ensure patients have access to quality cancer care. Let Congress know that cutting reimbursement for cancer drugs without making additional adjustments to cover costs for chemotherapy administration and critical cancer support services will only disrupt cancer treatment for older patients.

Contact your representatives and ask them to support provisions in the Access to Cancer Therapies Act and the Quality Cancer Care Preservation Act.


 




Advocacy Watch:  June 15, 2003
 
 
Medicare Reimbursement for Chemotherapy and Critical Cancer Support Services
-- Bill Schmidt, Chief Operating Officer, National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship
Americans are in danger of losing access to the quality cancer care they currently receive from their community oncologists.

Quality cancer care delivered in a local oncologistís office requires reimbursement for both chemotherapy as well as critical cancer support services for patients.

Until now, cancer patients have been able to receive both, but pending Medicare cost-cutting measures under consideration by the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate pose a real threat to patient care and, if enacted, may result in the closing of some community oncology practices.

This potential disruption of cancer treatment for older patients receiving Medicare can be avoidedóand without any additional federal funding.

You see, the problem is based in the seriously flawed Medicare reimbursement system for cancer care. Medicare currently overpays for chemotherapy but underpays for related professional cancer services. What needs to be done is not cost-cutting for the sake of cost-savings alone, but adjusting the Medicare payment system so itís both fair and balanced.

Representatives Charles Norwood and Lois Capps have introduced H.R. 1622óThe Quality Cancer Care Preservation Act--that provides for responsible and balanced reform of Medicare reimbursement. Congress will begin discussing this legislation this week.

Thatís why itís important for you to encourage your Congressional representative to support this important legislation now.


 




Advocacy Watch:  May 4, 2003
 
 
Medicare and Medicaid Reimbursement for Oral Chemotherapy
-- Bill Schmidt, Chief Operating Officer, National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship

Government reimbursement for certain cancer drugs hasn't kept up with some of the scientific advances in cancer therapy that have led to the development of new classes of oral medications.

Currently, there are a number of drugs that can offer cancer patients effective therapy, convenient use and enhanced quality of life, but are not covered by Medicare since they are taken orally rather than through traditional intravenous chemotherapy. By 2010, 25 percent of the drugs to treat cancer patients will be taken in oral or pill form.

This doesn't make any sense since it should be easier and less expensive to take drugs orally without having to travel to a doctor's office or hospital setting to receive chemotherapy, but the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)--the federal agency that oversees Medicare payment--is still basing reimbursement on legislation passed 10 years ago.

It's time to get Congress to enact legislation that's appropriate for the 21st century; encourage your local congressional representative to support HR 1288-the Access to Cancer Therapies Act.




 




 

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