ORGANIZATIONS EXPRESS STRONG SUPPORT
April 7, 2003
The Honorable Charles
The Honorable Lois
Dear Representatives Norwood and Capps:
The undersigned organizations representing cancer patients, providers and researchers strongly support H.R. 1622, the Quality Cancer Care Preservation Act. We thank you for your leadership in working for a system that will sustain quality cancer care for Medicare beneficiaries and their families. We look forward to working with you in this effort.
Cancer care is a multi-disciplinary effort undertaken in a variety of settings, but the overwhelming majority of such care is delivered in physician offices around the country. Access to quality care in the community where patients live and work is essential to people with cancer. Physicians and other professionals who make cancer care possible in the community must be adequately reimbursed if care is to continue unabated. Unfortunately, many ideas for reform of the reimbursement system focus on achieving program savings by dramatically reducing payment for drugs without appropriately addressing the corresponding issue of severe underpayment for services associated with administering chemotherapy in the outpatient setting.
We endorse wholeheartedly any effort to reduce excessive payments for drugs, but only if such reduction is accompanied by overall reform. Payments for drugs should reflect the costs of acquiring them, plus any incidental additional costs required to maintain a supply of drugs in physician offices. At the same time, payment for all physician, nurse and other provider services must be adequate to cover the actual costs of such services.
The Quality Cancer Care Preservation Act represents a comprehensive solution to the longstanding debate over Medicare reimbursement for chemotherapy drugs and services. This bill rationalizes payment for both drugs and services and ensures that quality cancer care in the community may continue.
We are particularly pleased that your legislation calls for an Institute of Medicine study of the cost of necessary cancer care services. There is a critical need for more information about the services to provide quality cancer care in the outpatient setting. We believe this study, when completed, should guide future decisions with respect to payment for outpatient cancer care.
Cancer is a disease that significantly affects the elderly, and many beneficiaries with cancer are highly dependent on Medicare for access to quality care. With your support of this balanced legislative proposal, beneficiaries with cancer can continue to rely on the program without risk of disruption of care.
We look forward to collaborating with you in this legislative effort.
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