Lawmakers should keep funding for Medicare Part B

We know that with the right treatment kidney cancer can be defeated. In fact, more than 200,000 kidney cancer survivors are living in the United States right now. Recent advances in diagnosis, surgical procedures and treatment options will help even more patients to defeat the disease, allowing them to maintain their normal schedules and lifestyles.

Medicare Part B is the federal a program responsible for covering treatment for a staggering 50 percent of kidney cancer patients in the United States.  Cutting Medicare Part B would limit access to treatments for thousands of kidney cancer sufferers and could even result in the closing of the cancer clinics that provide their life-saving treatment.

If lawmakers were looking to prioritize federal expenditures, they would be hard pressed to find a more far-reaching program than Part B.  Reducing its funding would make it harder for the physicians who provide treatments covered under this program – treatments that can only be administered under the supervision of healthcare providers.

The last time this program was cut was in 2003 in the Medicare Modernization Act, and the predictions then of clinics being forced to close have unfortunately come true.  In the last three and a half years alone, 199 community oncology clinics have been forced to shut their doors - and 369 more are struggling to stay afloat financially.  Over the next 10 years, some predict there will be a shortage of Oncologists that could leave one in four cancer patients without expert and safe care they need.

We understand that the growing national debt will require lawmakers to make difficult decisions regarding the federal budget.  However, Congress must not lose sight of what’s actually important: the health, well being and life of the people it was elected to represent.
Medicare Part B is a promise to all Americans that access to treatment during their most challenging times will never be questioned.  The program is responsible for keeping millions of cancer patients in their day-to-day fight to defeat the disease.  Congress should know by now that Americans want it to be left alone.

Bill Bro is the CEO of Kidney Cancer Association.

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