Trends in Patient Chemo Care Add Strain to Medicare

A federal policy shift has triggered a decline in patients receiving less-costly chemotherapy in physicians’ offices and a surge of those in more expensive hospital outpatient departments, according to a study released Monday. The trend, experts say, could have lasting effects on the quality of patient care, the existence of independent clinics and the future of Medicare.

Moran Co., a Washington-based healthcare research firm, confirmed that Medicare payments for fee-for-service hospital-based chemotherapy treatments have increased significantly while those for physicians’ offices have fallen.

According to the study, between 2005 and 2011 Medicare payments for chemotherapy administration in hospitals tripled to $300.9 million from $98.3 million, while payments for physician clinic chemotherapy administration dropped by 14.5 percent to $433.8 million from $507.5 million.

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Source: Medill Reports Chicago