Representative Doyle Opposes Proposed Cuts in Medicare Cancer Care

October 9, 2003
Press Release

On October 9, 2003, Representative Doyle expressed his opposition to proposed cuts in cancer care for Medicare beneficiaries at a press conference at the Hillman Cancer Center.

Congressman Doyle said, “The proposed Medicare cuts would create a crisis in cancer care in our country, and that’s simply unacceptable. We need to strengthen the Medicare program and fix its flawed reimbursement system for drugs and services. But I firmly believe that such reforms should be balanced and fair, so that Pennsylvania patients and their families don’t suffer from such action.”

Congress is expected to vote on a bill to create a Medicare prescription drug benefit in the coming weeks. One provision in this bill could cut up to $16 billion of Medicare funding for cancer care over the next 10 years, according to estimates released by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. Additionally, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) announced on August 15 a proposed rule that could reduce reimbursements to physicians and other providers for chemotherapies and other drugs and their administration by amounts in excess of $16 billion, severely disrupting cancer care for Medicare beneficiaries.

With both the Congress and Administration contemplating deep cuts in community-based cancer care, the Community Oncology Alliance (COA), a network of community-based cancer clinics across the U.S., released a new national analysis on October 9 highlighting the state-by-state impact of the cancer care cuts. Congressman Doyle joined the COA in a press conference at the Hillman Cancer Center to highlight this study.

Representative Doyle and other cancer care advocates across the country are concerned how these deep cuts will impact their communities. According to the new data, Pennsylvania would be among the 10 states that would be hardest hit - losing up to $863 million at the same time as it has to deal with nearly half a million new cases of cancer.

Sixty percent of all new cancers diagnosed each year occur among Medicare beneficiaries. Both Congress and CMS are considering extraordinary reductions in Medicare funding for cancer drugs, while maintaining extremely low reimbursements for related cancer treatment. If these proposals were signed into law, Medicare beneficiaries battling cancer will suffer numerous hardships related to the quality of their care and the access they will have to critical chemotherapy treatments.

To date, more than 170 concerned Members of Congress have signed letters to the congressional leadership requesting that the cancer cuts be replaced by a balanced approach to Medicare reimbursement reform. 

Research, which provides the scientific platform for the next generation of cancer-fighting therapies, could suffer as well. More than 60 percent of clinical trials of promising cancer treatments occur in the community-based setting. Without community treatment centers to provide care, patient access to clinical trials - and the hope they represent - would be significantly curtailed.