WAMU 88.5 : News

Filed Under:

Medicare Cancer Patients Turned Away Under Sequester Cuts

Play associated audio
Sequester cuts were supposed to hit providers, but those impacts have been passed along to patients.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/free_for_commercial_use/8564573386/
Sequester cuts were supposed to hit providers, but those impacts have been passed along to patients.

Medicare is facing a 2 percent budget cut under sequestration, which is supposed to hit providers, not patients. That has turned out not to be the case for some clinics that administer cancer drugs, which are already booting elderly patients off their rolls.

"We're not the prime target, the patient is the prime target," said Carreem Hussman, administrator for the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders in Bethesda, Md.

Clinics are unable to recoup the funds cut, so for expensive cancer treatments sought by many patients, they are being directed towards hospitals, ultimately at a higher cost for taxpayers.

Hussman's clinic hasn't booted any patients — yet. Instead, they instituted a hiring freeze and already laid off two workers. She said they're also considering turning away elderly cancer patients who are on Medicare and don't have any private insurance.

"We cannot stay in business when you can't even cover your costs for supplies, cover your costs for the drugs that you have to give to your patients," she said. "So it's really not about the profitability."

This unforeseen problem stemming from sequestration is angering some lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) has urged Congress to revisit the law.

"It was always a situation where things would get progressively worse," says Van Hollen. "This latest impact with respect to cancer patients is just one more symptom of the larger problem."

Van Hollen continues to call for raising revenue by changing the tax code, but Republican leaders reject that idea, arguing that Democrats need to accept more spending cuts and changes to the nation's entitlement programs.

WAMU 88.5

Customers Bid Farewell To One Of The D.C. Region's Last Video Stores

Longtime movie lovers say they'll miss the shop, but they'll especially mourn the gradual death of an American tradition.
NPR

Tabasco And Beer-Flavored: Not Your Easter Bunny's Jelly Beans

On the eve of Easter and National Jelly Bean Day, let us probe the mysterious origins and unexpected ascendency of the humble candy. And to celebrate, we've sampled Jelly Belly's newest flavors.
WAMU 88.5

Analysis: U.S. Capitol Renovations And The D.C. Council's Lawsuit Against Mayor Gray

Roll Call's David Hawkings joins Matt Bush to discuss the D.C. council's suit against Mayor Gray and the expensive process of rehabilitating the U.S. Capitol Dome.
WAMU 88.5

Free Public Wi-Fi Comes To NoMa

The NoMa Business Improvement District has started to provide free Wi-Fi in some parts of the neighborhood, but some users say the service is still too sluggish.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.