WASHINGTON, Nov. 30, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Community oncology leaders are in D.C. today for emergency meetings with Congress and the Administration to warn them on the impact on cancer care of the Medicare sequester cut. The emergency Community Oncology Alliance (COA) fly in has been prompted by the continued momentum of the tax bill in both the U.S. House and Senate which would double the current sequester cut, and by a proposed extension of the sequester.
Physicians and practice administrators from across the country have reworked schedules, moved patient visits, and more, to warn policymakers of the real dangers that the continued use of the sequester cut as a budget gimmick has a very real and dangerous impact on cancer care in the United States.
“Our elected officials need to understand that this sequester may seem like funny money to them but it is a slow bleed closing cancer clinics and forcing them into the waiting arms of more expensive hospital systems – especially those profiting off 340B,” said Jeff Vacirca, MD, president of COA and CEO of NY Cancer Specialists. “Congress needs to understand that their doubling down on the sequester and constantly extending it will result in community oncology practices being forced to shut their doors, which will cause access issues for patients and increase treatment costs as cancer care shifts to expensive hospitals.”
In 2013, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) enacted a 2% sequester payment cut to Medicare. The sequester cut to cancer drugs set up the nation’s cancer care system for consolidation and increased costs to seniors, Medicare, and taxpayers. Many oncology practices have not survived or are struggling to survive under the sequester cut to Medicare drug reimbursements that often are below costs.
The quantifiable impact since the 2013 Medicare sequestration cuts were imposed on cancer drugs are stark and stand as a very real warning to policymakers:
91 cancer treatment clinics have closed – a 31.6% increase in treatment site closings. (Source) 130 independent community cancer clinics, typically comprised of multiple treatment clinics, have merged into hospitals – a 27.7% increase in consolidation of independent practices into the more expensive hospital setting. (Source) The sequester cut to cancer drugs has driven up costs for seniors, Medicare, and taxpayers. The cost of the consolidation of cancer care into hospitals is estimated at $2 billion to Medicare in