Today, the federal government may decide that it can dictate to cancer patients where they are allowed to receive life-saving treatment and where they are not. This is obviously utterly unacceptable but sadly, given the recent climate of government overreach due to the hysteria over the measles, not a surprise.
“On February 15 the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a good proposal intended to help victims suffering from certain types of cancer, specifically those relating to the blood, like leukemia, by expanding access to CAR-T cell therapy. CAR-T is widely considered to be a medical breakthrough; the treatment is at least partially—if not wholly—successful in 80 percent of cases. But despite the treatment’s fabulous success rate, some cancer sufferers may be unable to take advantage of it due to one restrictive mandate within its National Coverage Determination (NCD).
The NCD outlines the cases in which treatments are covered and those in which they are not. In the case of CAR-T, within CMS’ otherwise commendable policy proposal, the agency will permit CAR-T treatment only when it is administered in hospitals. This stipulation is counterproductive red tape and can restrict people’s access to this life-saving cancer treatment. It is yet another example of the unintended, destructive consequences of government-controlled health care.”1
In the last decade, a large number of outpatient facilities treating cancer have popped up. And for those living in rural areas these facilities are incredibly important. But it’s more than just that; these facilities also allow patients to make a personal choice about their healthcare. And quite frankly, if the government isn’t paying each of these bills, why do they think they should be allowed to decide where the treatment takes place?
Many cancer sufferers are unable to travel and over half of cancer patients eligible for CAR-T don’t live close enough to hospitals where the therapy is administered. But there are still other factors that can be just as prohibitive:1
- patients receiving CAR-T are required to remain within a half-hour away from a treatment facility. This poses a severe problem for some individuals of limited income, who can’t afford the financial burden of relocating for treatment.
- about one in two patients eligible for CAR-T live at least an hour away from a qualifying treatment facility. To receive treatment, they would have to secure temporary housing within the prescribed 30-minute radius- another reason why people must be allowed to choose the treatment centers that work best for them.
The government has no business telling cancer patients where they can and cannot go to receive treatment. We will be watching this as it unfolds and update you when we have more information.