Monday, June 10, 2013

More on Sequestration

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.


Michael McEachern said...

I hope so too.

But, since you;ve opened the door, twice, I have to chime in.

As much as the issues hits me all too personally, I believe it illustrates the abject failure of our leaders to think thru a true solution to the problem, not just the sound bite. A lot of people fell for the promises, while the administration and Congress chose to kick the can down the road. Guess what? We're running out of road!

I have personally sat thru 3 seminars trying to grasp the effects of Obamacare, and the ultimate cost. Net, it's going to cost us all. A lot. This year alone, my company's premiums rose over 23%. But, no worries, the evil corporations will just divert some massive profits to take care of the masses.

Sounds great, but in practice, even the evil corporations only have so much to go around. They can bear the cost to a point, but very soon, we will be passing more of the cost on to our employees, or simply moving to less expensive plans, with less coverage. So in the end, in my view, this will affect everyone. We will all have affordable, basic coverage, but i believe there will be a breaking point, where we will have to prioritize our government subsidies and decide which is more important, health care, defense, oil, farmers, roads, bridges, border security, etc. I'm afraid to think that we are leaving the issues up to a Congress that has lost the ability to compromise on anything.

As the saying goes, "I love my country, it's my government that terrifies me."

Just my $.02. Until they figure this out, I'll just keep riding and trying to help fund research.

I hope they're tracking my web activity.

Stay well.

Lymphomaniac said...

I totally agree that we're in a bad place because of a federal government (not just a Congress) that has become too partisan, too stubborn, and too unwilling to compromise. I think I'd be a lot more willing to accept whatever outcome was chosen if I thought it was the result of genuine dialogue. I'm not naive enough to think that in some great past, all politicians were wonderful and listened to one another and had everyone's best interests at heart. But at least, when they had a special-interest-filled pie in front of them, they were willing to talk about how to divide it up.

As for Obamacare, I've always said that there were certain provisions that were important to me, including guaranteed coverage, even with pre-existing conditions. Obviously, someone has to pay for all of that. Is the current system ideal? Clearly not. But without some kind of dialogue about a better way to pay for it, we're not going to get something better. It's very frustrating.

So keep riding and raising money. We have that much, anyway.