- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 23, 2010

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

As Dr. Milton R. Wolf notes in his column “Prescription for disaster” (Opinion, March 11), the guiding principle of medicine is, “First, do no harm.” Unfortunately, the president’s administration has chosen to do the exact opposite in its approach to cancer care.

Medicare payments for lifesaving cancer drugs have been cut by 5 percent this year and will be cut further each year through 2013, when payment will be slashed by more than 20 percent. Moreover, in the face of these severe cuts, an antiquated Medicare system is strangling cancer clinics with payment barriers.

Dr. Wolf documents the success of our nation’s cancer care delivery system, the best in the world. However, that system is already being dismantled by Medicare. In recent weeks, a cancer clinic serving the population of historic Selma, Ala., for 25 years announced it was closing its doors because of inadequate government payment. A recent study shows that Medicare pays just 57 percent of the cost of cancer care.

Now that the House has passed the president’s health care reform, the harm currently being done to cancer care will increase. With historic cuts to Medicare, the “bundling” of payments to hide those reductions and disincentives, an increasing number of Americans fighting cancer face a bleak future.

TED OKON

Executive director, Community Oncology Alliance

Washington

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