As I was catching up on some post-vacation newspaper reading yesterday, I read an Omaha World-Herald article that said Medicare funding for cancer has dropped every year since 2004, with more cuts planned in each of the next three years. The article was actually about a couple of young women who created a dance video to raise awareness of the issue, but the sidebar examining the issue is what caught my attention.
For example, Medicare covers only 57 percent of the cost of chemotherapy, and the rate is scheduled to decline to 48 percent by 2013, according to a study by Avalere Health. Those of us who are lucky enough to get older had better be prepared to pay more out of pocket at a time when our earning power is less likely to be at its peak.
The low Medicare reimbursement rates are forcing community cancer clinics to close–166 of them nationwide in the last three years, according to the Community Oncology Alliance. We can probably anticipate more closures there as well.
Whether you’re a member of the pink ribbon tribe like me or have had some other form of the “c” word, you should be alarmed by this. We all should. Sooner or later, you or someone you know is likely to get cancer–possibly more than one kind. Breast cancer alone will strike one in eight women.
But we don’t have to just sit by and wring our hands. You can sign a petition at the Community Oncology Alliance’s website. You can also see where your Congressional representatives stand on the issue, and contact them. And you can spread the word by blogging about this issue, posting a link to the petition on your social media accounts and e-mailing it to your friends.