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Cancer patients turned away to die thanks to Medicare sequester cuts

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
April 4th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Cancer patients are feeling the brunt of Congressional ineptitude as they are being turned away from cancer clinics across the nation. The sequester has hit Medicare funding forcing many oncology clinics to choose between turning away patients or going out of business.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Patients have been told for weeks now, they need to go someplace else for the cancer treatments. Medicare patients who need cancer treatments are being sent away because the sequester has reduced the money they get for expensive chemotherapy drugs.

Some clinics have been forced to turn away at least a third of their patients.

The sequester has hit cancer patients hard because cancer drugs are paid for by Medicare Part B, which has been cut by the sequester. Normally, doctors are paid the average sales price of the drug plus a 6 percent on top to cover the cost of storing and administering the drugs.

The cuts are impacting the reimbursements doctors get for the drugs, whose prices are already high. After the math is done, doctors are essentially being forced to pay part of the cost of drugs whose price had previously been covered by the government.

In an ironic twist, the same patients must now turn up at hospitals to receive the chemotherapy drugs they need. At hospitals the costs are an average of $6,500 more than what they would be at the clinic. In the end, the cuts actually cost more money.

Patients are also having to pay about $650 more out-of-pocket on average.

This is bankrupting patients, threatening doctors, and making it more likely that dramatic healthcare reform legislation, in the form of price controls or some other socialist solution will occur. It may happen because the free market, when it comes to health care, has proven itself incapable of regulating itself.

Incredible profiteering on part of the drug manufacturers and corporations managing hospitals and other healthcare providers is costing more money than people have, more than the government can afford, and ultimately its costing lives.

Granted, solutions such as price controls will lead to shortages and less incentive for development of new and effective drugs, but it's a matter of choosing one's preferred poison. At this point, people will suffer and even die either through action or inaction.

This is what happens when healthcare becomes an investment rather than a charitable cause. When the government interferes with markets, people lose the option to shop, and competition is stifled.

The present is a nightmare for cancer patients. The future may be a nightmare for us all.

We sure got the change, now we also have a lot of hope to go with it.

Article brought to you by: Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)