LETTER TO SECRETARY SHALALA REGARDING PROPOSAL
June 8, 2000
The Honorable Donna
Dear Madame Secretary:
As representatives of people with cancer, we are dismayed by your recent actions to reduce Medicare payments for drugs administered by a physician, which are largely drugs to treat cancer. Medicare beneficiaries are disproportionately struck by cancer, and any federal government policy that hinders beneficiary access to quality cancer care is of concern to us all.
Delivering anticancer chemotherapy in a physician's office entails costs beyond those of the drugs themselves. Moreover, it is well recognized, even by your own Department, that oncologists are not adequately paid for the professional services involved in administering chemotherapy. Further reductions will jeopardize the ability of office-based oncologists to continue to provide quality care in the relatively convenient and supportive private office setting. Cancer patients do not want to be forced back into the hospital outpatient department because Medicare reimbursement policies make treatment in the physician office fiscally impracticable.
This is an issue that Congress has previously considered and resolved. Efforts by your Department to revive the controversy administratively seem inconsistent with the will of Congress. We certainly believe this initiative is inconsistent with quality cancer care, and we urge you in the strongest possible terms to reconsider this ill-advised action.
Cancer Leadership Council
for Lung Cancer Advocacy, Support, and Education
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