Sequestration not hurting? Ask cancer patients

An excerpt of an op-ed by Dr. Jeffrey Vacirca, chief executive and managing partner of North Shore Hematology/Oncology Associates published in Newsday.

NSHOA kkSome news reports suggest that sequestration is not having an impact on our country. Those reports are blind to what is happening to cancer care and the devastating impact of the sequester cut to cancer patients.

Sequestration resulted when Congress could not agree to federal budget cuts. Many made dire predictions about the automatic budget cuts required by sequestration, including an across-the-board cut to Medicare, but once they were imposed, much of the doomsaying ended.

Few understand the harmful impact that the cuts are having on cancer care, and their potential to seriously imperil its future.

Less than eight years ago, close to 90 percent of cancer treatment was delivered in community cancer clinics. We pride ourselves on providing our patients with the highest quality cancer treatment in a convenient location, a caring environment, and at a lower cost. It’s now estimated that less than 70 percent of cancer care is delivered in clinics like ours, with treatment increasingly shifting to the more expensive, and typically less convenient, hospital setting. With roughly 50 percent of cancer care covered by Medicare, hospital cancer care costs taxpayers $6,500 more per patient per year and seniors $650 more in co-pays compared with care from community-based cancer centers, according to a study by Milliman, a leading health care market research firm. The expense is even greater for patients covered by private insurance.

Read the full op-ed here.

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