A recent blog post by reporter Sarah Kliff details the treatment challenges for cancer patients that have emerged as a consequence of the sequester budget cuts. Oncologists and clinics cite reduction in Medicare payments that shift financial burdens, reducing payment that helped to cover overhead costs associated with treatment. Many cancer patients have been advised to seek treatment at hospitals, however evidence suggests that these treatments will ultimately be more costly to the federal government. These changes in treatment options and Medicare payment are not the only impact on cancer survivors. A recent post by NCCS staff notes additional impact of the budget cuts on biomedical research.
“I don’t think there was an intention to disrupt care or move it into a more expensive setting,” said Cathy Schoen, senior vice president of the Commonwealth Fund, which recently released a plan for cutting $2 trillion in health spending. “If that’s the case, we’re being penny-wise and a pound-foolish with these cuts.”
Legislators meant to partially shield Medicare from the automatic budget cuts triggered by the sequester, limiting the program to a 2 percent reduction — a fraction of the cuts seen by other federal programs.
But oncologists say the cut is unexpectedly damaging for cancer patients because of the way those treatments are covered.