October 25, 2018 (Washington, D.C.) Addressing the burden of chronic disease to promote better health acutely depends upon enhancing not restricting access to evidence-based preventive and medical care, including physician-administered prescription drugs. We have grave concerns that the Administration’s proposed changes to Part B will create significant barriers to access to care for Medicare beneficiaries living with serious, complex, chronic conditions.
Ninety-six cents of every dollar Medicare spends goes to treating beneficiaries with at least one chronic condition. Medicare beneficiaries incurring the most medical spending often have five or more chronic conditions, representing significant medical needs and individualized care to address them. Focusing on ways to reduce the prevalence and toll of chronic illnesses would improve the overall health of Medicare itself and the millions of Americans it serves.
Medicines administered under Medicare Part B involve serious, complex chronic illnesses, including most cancers, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and other autoimmune conditions. Individual etiology of disease stage, severity, aggression level, and patient goals will factor into treatment decisions developed by physicians and their patients. The proposed changes will inject additional parties to that decision-making, ones making judgments not on the physician’s recommendations, or what’s in the best interest of the patient or her treatment goals, but on exclusively economic grounds. That includes decisions made by foreign nations where policy decisions have delayed patient access to new medicines and include judgments of “value” of health care products and services that discount the personalized nature of patient needs and responses to care.
Controlling spending on health care is a priority for all Americans, but Medicare’s most vulnerable - beneficiaries living with serious, complex chronic diseases – should not be sacrificed in pursuit of that goal. Instead, we should be focusing on improvements that help Medicare garner the full benefit preventing and better managing chronic diseases to reduce costs and save lives.
The Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD) is an international coalition of hundreds of patient, provider, community, business and labor groups, and health policy experts, committed to raising awareness of the number one cause of death, disability and rising health care costs: chronic disease.