On Fox News' "On the Record," Greta Van Susteren shames the federal government for spending $423,000 as part of the stimulus package to study the "correct use of condoms," while thousands of cancer patients are being denied treatment because they're on Medicare.
The sequester cuts in the Budget Control Act of 2011 that reduce Medicare spending by 2 percent each fiscal year, took effect on April 1 and affect senior citizens' access to life-saving treatments and medications.
Van Susteren expressed her outrage toward members of Congress who are in their home districts and President Obama who's traveling and fundraising, for allowing the sequester to take place, and for allowing stimulus dollars to be wasted while senior citizens are "at home, terrified, wondering if their number is up in terms of getting treatment."
"The only ones who can fix it are the president, the House and the Senate," she said during her interview with Ted Okon, the executive director of Community Oncology Alliance in Washington, D.C.
Okon explained that the 2 percent cuts to Medicare is also "cutting the underlying cost of drugs," which means that either treatment facilities have to decrease the number of patients they see by sending patients elsewhere, or they will go out of business due to financial losses, if they continue to see all of their Medicare patients.
"I was on the phone today with over 150 practice administrators from across the country," Okon said on Fox News. "And they're almost like deer in the headlights because no one ever thought that the sequester cuts would get implemented for Medicare. And no one thought that it would ever cut the fixed drug costs."
Dr. R. Steven Paulson, president of Texas Oncology in Dallas, Texas, told The Christian Post on Friday that while they haven't had to turn away any patients, like other treatment facilities across the U.S., they're closely monitoring the situation. And although they aren't planning to stop seeing patients, they will have to "act appropriately if the sequester continues" because they're "not immune to the problem, and will experience the same financial impact as other practices."
In a joint statement to members of Congress, the Obama administration and Health and Human Services, the U.S. Oncology Network is requesting that Congress pass and the president sign H.R. 800 "to bring Medicare drug reimbursement closer to costs in order to sustain community cancer care," and for the administration to "exempt cancer drugs from the sequester cut or to apply the 2 percent sequester cut only to the 6 percent services payment."
The letter continues, "A recent survey indicates the sequester cut will force 72 percent of cancer clinics to not see new Medicare patients or send all Medicare patients to the hospital for treatment. Access problems will multiply and costs will increase for both seniors fighting cancer and Medicare."
"More than 60 percent of cancer patients in the United States rely on Medicare. A series of misguided Medicare reimbursement cuts has created an unsustainable situation whereby many community cancer care providers operate at a loss when providing treatment to Medicare patients. Unfortunately, Medicare payment falls short, and many cancer clinics are currently paid less than it costs to treat seniors fighting cancer."
According to Okon, the sequester cuts to Medicare means that cancer patients will be forced to seek treatment in hospitals. And instead of the government saving money, the sequester cuts "costs not only the patients more, but it costs Medicare more money."
The solution, Van Susteren said, is to "exempt cancer drugs from the sequester … so Medicare patients can get their chemotherapy."
Although the sequester cuts affect Medicare patients, they have no impact on Medicaid programs.
Correction: April 10, 2013:
In an April 6 article, "Fox News' Greta Van Susteren Blasts Gov't for Denying Treatment to Cancer Patients," Dr. R. Steven Paulson, president of Texas Oncology, is cited as being located in The Woodland, Texas, but the correct location is Dallas, Texas.