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Nation's Leading Patient Advocate Organization Testifies Before Congressional Subcommittee On Access Barriers For Medicare Beneficiaries With Cancer

WASHINGTON, June 28, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- National Patient Advocate Foundation (PAF) Founder and CEO Nancy Davenport-Ennis testified today before the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee on the impact cuts to Medicare Part B drugs could have on patient access to critical community-based cancer care, as well as difficulty patients continue to have with Medicare co-pays. 

Specifically, Davenport-Ennis pointed to a notable rise in appeals to PAF's call centers from both Medicare beneficiaries and cancer doctors regarding difficulty accessing certain cancer drugs from their clinic in the community-based setting, where most patients receive their cancer care.  As a result, patients have to seek cancer treatment in the hospital setting to access their life-saving cancer medicines; this displacement disrupts their continuum of care, is inconvenient, and can be more costly to the Medicare program. 

"The stories we're hearing from around the nation are startling and heartbreaking - and not just for the patients," said Davenport-Ennis.  "Doctors and nurses, who are committed to saving lives, are now being forced to do the unthinkable and turn sick and elderly patients away from their clinics to hospitals.    We knew this day was coming, but that doesn't make the reality of what's happening any easier to bear. "

Upon further investigation and inquiries to both patients and cancer care providers in states like Georgia, New Mexico and Ohio, PAF case managers were able to confirm inadequate Medicare reimbursement for many leading cancer drugs as the sole reason for this trend.

A large regional cancer clinic in Columbus, Ohio, went so far as to forewarn all cancer patients in a letter that the sequestration cuts are affecting their ability to provide treatment options for their Medicare patients as a result of the drop in reimbursement.   The result has been patients flocking to nearby hospitals, some of who are now experiencing a two-week delay in receiving chemo treatments, or four to six patients per day being denied services in the community-based setting.

In another case, Northeast Georgia Diagnostic Clinic, whose care team sees 200-250 patients a day, is being forced to send cancer and arthritis patients who need infusion medications to hospitals.

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