WASHINGTONThe Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) has backed off from plans to reduce Medicare payments for chemotherapy agents administered in outpatient settings.
HCFA recommended that no changes be made until the physician fee schedule is updated to reflect the true cost of chemotherapy services. Currently, physicians and cancer centers are underpaid for the costs of administering chemotherapy and, Medicare contends, overpaid for the cost of the drugs.
The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) led the fight to prevent any reductions in Medicare payments for chemotherapy agents. We would like to acknowledge HCFAs willingness to work with the cancer community on this important issue, ASCO president Lawrence H. Einhorn, MD, said in a statement. We are pleased that HCFA has agreed to postpone any action until they can further study this matter. We intend to work with HCFA as they undertake the important task of updating the physician fee schedule for 2002.