WASHINGTON, June 2 /PRNewswire/ -- The Community Oncology Alliance (COA) announced today that more than 50,000 Americans have already signed the Petition to Stop Cancer Care Cuts, which can be found online at www.communityoncology.org/coa-petition.
Community oncologists and cancer patients plan to deliver the petition to Congress on June 23 in Washington, DC. These patients and doctors will visit the nation's capital to deliver a strong message about the crisis facing the U.S. cancer care delivery system.
"We're encouraging all Americans whose lives have been affected by cancer to sign the Petition before it is delivered this month," said Ted Okon, Executive Director of COA. "The fact that we have reached 50,000 signatures so quickly, without any advertising campaign, speaks volumes. These cuts are an enormous concern, not only to cancer patients, but also to many Americans who recognize that cancer can affect any family at any moment."
The recently passed Health Care Reform legislation did not address the ongoing cuts to Medicare reimbursement rates to physicians. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has severely cut payments for cancer care – more than 25% since 2004 for the administration of life saving drugs alone – which has affected doctors' ability to treat patients.
In January, Medicare further cut payments by another 5% for the administration of life-saving cancer drugs, and will continue to make additional cuts every year through 2013. Cuts are also being made to imaging tests – such as PET and CT scans – that detect and help oncologists to treat and manage patients' cancer.
In addition to oncology-specific cuts, a 21% Medicare payment cut for all physicians' services began June 1, 2010. One-month delays in this cut have repeatedly been approved by Congress since January. Recently the House of Representatives passed a bill that includes a 19-month delay of this 21% cut, but Congress recessed before a companion bill passed the Senate.
"Community cancer clinics, which treat 84% of all U.S. cancer patients, cannot continue to operate when their costs are higher than revenues," continued Okon. "In response to these cuts, some clinics have already closed; others have been forced to reduce staff and send patients elsewhere for treatment."
COA launched an aggressive campaign to fight cancer care cuts, and continues to reach out to Americans to sign the Petition to Stop Cancer Care Cuts before June 23, 2010. The organization has also created a Petition web page at www.communityoncology.org/coa-petition.
About Community Oncology Alliance (COA)
Formed in 2003 in response to the Medicare Modernization Act, COA is a non-profit organization dedicated solely to community oncology. COA was founded by community oncology to advocate for patients and providers in the community oncology setting, where 84 percent of Americans with cancer are treated. Currently, COA is working with the Congress in providing proactive solutions designed to protect the viability of the nation's cancer care delivery system and patients' access to quality, affordable cancer care. The cancer death rate in the U.S. has declined due to earlier detection, the quality of treatment, and the accessibility of cancer care. However, according to the American Cancer Society, men still have an approximately one in two lifetime risk of developing cancer, with a risk of one in three for women. For more information, please visit www.communityoncology.org, or follow COA on Facebook at www.facebook.com/communityoncologyalliance and Twitter at www.twitter.com/oncologyCOA.
SOURCE Community Oncology Alliance