I wrote a while ago about the federal government "Sequester," and the potential it had for harming cancer patients.
The "potential" harm is, unfortunately, becoming actual harm, and the last couple of weeks have seen some problems come to light. A survey of oncologists sponsored by ASCO shows that about 80% of them have had their practices affected by the cuts.
Some members of Congress have taken notice and are asking their colleagues to make an exception for cancer patients the way they made an exception for FAA funding, allowing budget money to be shifted around to cover funding shortfalls for Medicare patients. The sequester had cut Medicare chemotherapy treatment payments by 2%. Doesn't sound like much, but the result has been that smaller clinics and private practices, especially those that are not near hospitals, have been turning patients away. Those near hospitals are sent to the hospitals for treatments. Others are out of luck or forced to travel -- a hardship for many who are on Medicare.
124 members of Congress wrote to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, asking them to shift some items in their budget. Unfortunately, the Director of the CMS told them that she does not have the4 authority to do so.
There's currently a bill in the House, sponsored by Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC), a former nurse, asking that cancer treatments be exempt from the sequester. It's slowly making its way through the process.
I hate to make Lympho Bob political, because, frankly, cancer doesn't recognize political affiliations. But the lack of health care for people in our country is sometimes just barbaric. As I've said before, I've known too many people who have died because they couldn't afford treatment. That really makes us no better than most 3rd world countries. Help is available, and people should be able to get it.
I hope Rep. Ellmers and her co-sponsors can make this small thing happen.