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Study: Medicare Covers Only Half the Cost of Administering Chemotherapy to Seniors with Cancer
Date:2/4/2010

M.D., vice president of COA and partner at Lake Norman Oncology in Mooresville, North Carolina.  Dr. Eagle will be presenting the study results at the annual conference this weekend. He continued, "The study quantifies what we have known – that cuts in Medicare reimbursement have created a crisis in community cancer care that threatens the very existence of the system that treats four in five U.S. cancer patients."

In addition to underpayments for chemotherapy infusion-related services reported in the study, the average oncology practice reported annual bad debt of $500,178.

"Covering co-payments and coinsurance is harder for cancer patients than ever before," said Patrick Cobb, M.D., president of COA and managing partner of Hematology-Oncology Centers of the Northern Rockies in Billings, Montana. "Cancer treatments and medications are more expensive, requiring a larger percentage of patient income to meet their cost sharing responsibilities. As a result, many practices – who turn away patients only as a very last resort – are absorbing these unpaid costs, contributing to their precarious financial situations."

Medicare has already severely cut payments for cancer drug infusion room services — over 25% since 2004. In addition, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will implement even more cuts, reducing payment for drug infusion room services an additional 5% annually, up to 20% by 2013. Other cuts have been made for cancer diagnostic imaging and physician consultation services.  On top of oncology-specific cuts, there will be a 21% payment cut for all physicians' services starting in March 2010 if Congress does not act quickly to stop it.

"The situation is even more troubling when we consider that the
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SOURCE Community Oncology Alliance
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