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Medicare modernization act did not change chemotherapy as feared
Date:10/7/2007

tments.

When the act was passed in 2003, many doctors and patient advocates were concerned about the consolidation of services it might necessitate, such as the moving of chemotherapy services to hospital rather than outpatient settings and the elimination of staff positions, said Joelle Friedman, a DCRI researcher and lead author on the paper. They were afraid these changes would affect patients access to care, but our study showed that these concerns turned out to be largely unwarranted.

About half of the patients surveyed in each group were under the age of 65 and half were over 65. The majority of patients in each group reported being either satisfied or very satisfied with the care they received from their oncologists, Friedman said.

The researchers also found no difference in the amount of time from diagnosis to initiation of chemotherapy between the two groups; the median lapse in time was 22 days in both groups, Friedman said.

Patients reported an average travel time of 30 minutes to the location of their chemotherapy appointments, both before and after the implementation of the act, she said.

The speculation that treatment location would change -- that patients would either be forced to travel farther for therapy or switch treatment locations in the middle of therapy -- also proved to be unfounded, Friedman said.

The MMA represented the largest overhaul of the Medicare system since it was created in 1965. Changes included a new prescription drug benefit, and a $25 billion allocation of funds to rural hospitals. One key provision, however, was a significant reduction in Medicare reimbursement to healthcare providers. Oncologists were strongly affected, due to a perception that they had been over-compensated in the past.


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Contact: Lauren Shaftel Williams
lauren.shaftel@duke.edu
919-684-4966
Duke University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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