Tag Archives: Medicare

Hematologists Fight for Biomedical Research Funding, Physician Reimbursement at 2013 ASH Annual Meeting

Guest post by ASH Government Relations, Practice, and Scientific Affairs.

AshBetween presentations of cutting-edge research and sessions on emerging trends in hematology, attendees of the American Society of Hematology (ASH) annual meeting last December emailed Congress and strategized ways to encourage Members of Congress to protect existing and future NIH funding and reform physician payment under Medicare.

The 2013 ASH Annual Meeting presented a vital opportunity for hematologists to mobilize on these two challenging issues facing the field and ASH’s group of member advocates, called the ASH Grassroots Network, had a strong presence at the recent annual meeting in New Orleans. During the meeting, members of the Grassroots Network gathered for a special luncheon event to learn more about ASH’s current advocacy priorities and how they could become effective advocates for the following immediate issues in Congress of critical importance to hematology:

  • FY2014 budget negotiations, particularly regarding NIH funding
  • A 24 percent cut in Medicare reimbursement payments to physicians, mandated by the flawed Sustainable Growth Rate Formula (SGR)
  • The February 7, 2014, deadline to raise the debt ceiling  Continue reading →
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A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Is a do-nothing Congress a public health threat?

Dear Research Advocate:

Last week, I wrote about the international trade deficit our country faces. This week, I’d like to focus on the budget deficit. From 2003 to 2011, Medicare and Medicaid spending grew 74% while our economy only grew 35%. With that kind of differential, no government can balance its budget. We need research to address disabling and costly illnesses, but that won’t be enough in and of itself to bridge the gap. We also need tax and entitlement reform that preserves needed services, squeezes out waste and inefficiency (by the way, that’s why we must also fight to protect health economics research, health services research and other research that optimizes health care financing and delivery) and promotes pro-innovation tax changes that are designed to sustain a prosperous nation.

One vocal advocate for a long-term view of the steps our nation must take to secure human and economic progress, including committing to ample and stable public support for medical research, is The Honorable John Porter, Research!America chair and former U.S. representative. He recently penned an op-ed published on CNN.com and elsewhere titled “A do-nothing Congress isn’t healthy.” Mr. Porter makes it clear that we must “view research through the prism of future generations” to properly set a legislative course towards prosperity and good health, and we must not delay. Continue reading →

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.

Statement from Research!America President and CEO Mary Woolley on President Obama’s FY14 Budget Proposal

The president’s FY14 budget proposal offers a lifeline for medical research to replace sequestration’s damaging footprints. The budget includes $31.3 billion for the National Institutes of Health, as well as increases for the Food and Drug Administration and National Science Foundation. These increases would take our nation in the right direction, but we’re concerned that budget proposals from Congress – one from each of the House and Senate – unlike the president, fail to reverse sequestration. Sequestration, 10 years of across-the-board spending cuts, will drag our nation down from its leadership position in research and development as other countries aggressively ramp up investments, attracting American businesses and young scientists concerned that federal funding is on the decline, that the U.S. no longer prioritizes research. Policy makers must start acting in the best interests of this nation and tackle tax and entitlement reform to end sequestration.

Our nation has the most sophisticated medical research ecosystem in the world; yet our elected officials have ignored the short- and long-term consequences of dismantling it via sequestration – more deaths from preventable diseases, increased joblessness and soaring health care costs as more Baby boomers become afflicted with Alzheimer’s, cancer, heart disease and other life-threatening, costly illnesses.

While the president’s budget increases federally-funded medical research, Congress and the administration must look more deeply into the consequences of dramatic cuts to Medicare Parts B and D, which cover crucial medical innovations including prescription drugs, biologics, and medical devices.  If Medicare undervalues these preventative, diagnostic, and treatment tools, access and innovation will both suffer. The counterproductive effect of slowed innovation and access barriers could be increased hospital and other health care costs. We’re also disappointed that the president’s budget cuts funding for the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention which is already operating on a severely depleted budget.  Cuts to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality which identifies waste and duplication in our health care system while combating deadly medical errors are also a strategic mistake.  Policymakers must tread carefully in the coming weeks to avoid decision-making that will endanger the health and economic prosperity of our country.

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