Cancer Patients Turned Away Because of Sequestration

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(Memphis) The sequestration has already been felt in several areas across the country with some airport control towers shut down and job losses.

Now thousands of cancer patients are being turned away from their treatment because of it.

This could cost lives because patients are being sent to hospitals not equipped to treat them.

Dr. Kurt Tauer is an oncologist at The West Clinic.

Tauer says cuts to Medicare slash the amount of money reimbursed to clinics for chemotherapy treatments, “The oncologist actually loses money every time they treat the patient because they are getting paid less than what they have to pay the pharmaceutical company to get the medicine to care for the patient."

Dr. Tauer says it's forcing some clinics to turn patients away, “The hospital has a different method of billing so they don't experience the loss in the hospital that he oncologist experiences in his private practice."

He says it's counterproductive because hospitals charge more costing tax payers more, and he says unfortunately most hospitals aren't equipped to handle chemo treatments because they don't typically do them.

Like most private clinics, about half the patients at The West Clinic are on Medicare, but they have made the decision to not turn any patient because of the cuts even though it will cost them money.

Dr. Tauer says the resolution is for lawmakers to come to an agreement on a fair way to distribute reimbursement so private practices can keep their doors open.