Despite fears, Medicare cuts didn't harm cancer care

When Congress changed the way Medicare paid oncologists in 2003--cutting reimbursements by 30 to 40 percent--critics charged that patients would have less access to care. However, a new study suggests that such fears may have been largely groundless.

The study found that at minimum, patients aren't waiting any longer on average for chemo to begin, and that they aren't traveling any further to be treated than they did in 2003. The study, which surveyed 1,400 men and women with cancer who had Medicare coverage, found that the average wait for chemotherapy following a diagnosis was about three weeks, the same as it had been before 2003.

However, it's worth noting that despite average travel times and waits for care holding steady, there were some problems that came to light. For example, rural patients did see some impact, as they now wait four weeks rather than three for chemo to begin.

To find out more about the study:
- read this article from The Washington Post

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