Payment cuts by the state Department of Health will have a devastating impact on the quality and access to cancer care for patients across the state — and will end up costing us all more in taxes.
Starting this year, New York has decided it will no longer pay for all of the costs of providing cancer care to citizens covered by both Medicare and Medicaid, known as dual-eligible patients. These are often elderly or disabled women and men.
The biggest impact the cuts will have will be on the highly skilled oncology nurses who ensure patient safety and comfort while receiving chemotherapy. It is no exaggeration to say these nurses are the frontline heroes in our nation’s battle against cancer — monitoring the administration of complex chemotherapy drugs, helping patients deal with the serious side effects of treatment and providing comfort.
Ironically, because the cuts will send more patients to hospitals, they are only going to cost Medicaid and Medicare more money. Community cancer practices like mine on Long Island cannot continue to provide care if these cuts stay in place.
We need immediate, decisive action from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, the State Legislature and Congress to fix cancer care today if we want to have any hope of finding the cure tomorrow.
Editor’s note: The writer is the chief executive of the NSHOA cancer centers.