During the current presidential campaign, both candidates are making promises of increased health care benefits. However, while promises of increased benefits are being made, the Clinton administration is in the process of reducing current benefits to those who need them most -- those stricken with cancer.
Patients who stand to be directly affected are those 750,000 who receive in-office chemotherapy -- at least half of whom are Medicare recipients.
Donna Shalala, secretary of Health & Human Services, states that doctors are chareging prices for chemotherapy treatments that are in excess of the amount paid for the medicine. Shalala does not take into consideration additional costs of equipment, skilled nursing and other expenses related to administering the chemotherapy.
An editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle stated Shalala intends to reduce repayments to physicians for Medicare patients beginning Oct. 1. This move would make it economically unfeasible for physicians to give in-office chemotherapy treatments, forcing many elderly patients to travel to another facility for service.
Granted, provisions of Medicare need to be scrutinized and regulated, but to try to balanace the budget on the back of chemotherapy patients seems heartless and ill-advised. To date, at least 120 members of Congress have signed letters complaining to Shalala about the abrupt rule change without hearings. As 77 million baby-boomers approach retirement age, the time to act is now!
Please contact your congressman or senator to ask him or her to help stop this unkind, unfair act. Sample letters are available at doctors' offices.