ASCO is deeply concerned about continued stagnation of federal research funding and sustained attacks on the nation’s cancer care delivery system... Our patients deserve better.
—Clifford A. Hudis, MD, FACP
[On March 4, 2014], President Obama released his proposed budget for fiscal year 2015. Among several cost-cutting measures designed to preserve Medicare solvency is a proposal to reduce reimbursement for life-sustaining cancer drugs. Currently, reimbursement to physicians for “Part B” drugs is based on the average sales price plus a 6% payment for services needed to administer chemotherapy in physicians’ offices, where most cancer patients receive their care.
“The President has proposed to reduce the 6% service payment to 3%. (The budget proposal appears to apply cuts primarily to physicians, but also mentions rebates that will be required by manufacturers.) This further threatens access to convenient care nationwide.
“For the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the President has requested $30.4 billion, an increase of $211 million over FY 2014. The NIH budget includes $4.93 billion for the National Cancer Institute (NCI), an $8 million increase over last year. The essentially flat funding (when adjusted for inflation) for the important biomedical research conducted by NIH limits our chances to take full advantage of the exciting scientific advances that promise to save and extend the lives of cancer patients.
“The President also proposes a budget for the Food and Drug Administration of $4.7 billion, an increase of $358 million, or 8%, above FY 2014. This increase consists of $23 million in budget authority and $335 million in user fees.
“ASCO is deeply concerned about continued stagnation of federal research funding and sustained attacks on the nation’s cancer care delivery system. Continuing on this path jeopardizes quality and access to care for patients with cancer across the United States, and slows the tremendous progress made possible by our nation’s historic leadership in science and medicine.
“The President’s budget will force new cuts in clinical trials programs and will further strain practices already being forced to shift patients to hospitals and other settings for their chemotherapy. Not only will the nation lose out on unprecedented scientific opportunity before us, we will further compromise the very system we depend upon to deliver the fruits of our research.
“Our patients deserve better.” ■