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Tim Bishop knocks sequestration Medicare cuts

Rep. Tim Bishop, accompanied by doctors and patients in East Setauket, called yesterday for an end to cuts to Medicare reimbursements for cancer treatment caused by across-the-board federal budget cuts.

He said that budget sequestration, which began April 1, has cut the Medicare reimbursement rate for medications, including chemotherapy administered in community cancer centers or doctors' offices.

As a result, clinics across the country are unable to continue treating all of their Medicare patients while staying financially solvent, Bishop (D-Southampton) said at a news conference at North Shore Hematology/Oncology Associates.

"These cuts have forced many clinics to send some of their patients to hospitals to receive care -- a practice that will ultimately result in higher costs for both the patients and the Medicare system as a whole," he said.

"The burden placed on cancer patients and their caregivers as a result of sequestration is unacceptable," Bishop said.

Bishop cited a recent study showing that chemotherapy "delivered in a hospital setting costs the federal government an average of $6,500 more per patient annually than it does in a community clinic."

He said ending the across-the-board cuts would save an estimated $450 million to $600 million that the government will be compelled to pay under current law.

Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.) has introduced legislation to exempt physician-administered drugs from the budget cuts. The bill is before the Ways and Means Committee.

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