Congress Must Act to Avoid Harmful Medicare Cuts in Tax Bill

Congress Must Act to Avoid Harmful Medicare Cuts in Tax Bill

Bruce E. Johnson, MD, FASCO

Dec 21, 2017

With the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on the verge of being signed into law, ASCO is concerned about across-the-board cuts to Medicare that the measure will trigger. We urge Congress to protect Medicare beneficiaries with cancer and other medical conditions by passing additional legislation to avoid cuts to the program.

Existing law requires automatic cuts to mandatory programs when the federal deficit is increased. The legislation Congress passed yesterday will trigger an estimated $25 billion cut to Medicare in 2018 unless Congress passes a waiver. Given that 60% of patients with cancer in the United States are Medicare beneficiaries, a cut of this magnitude will cause further instability in the already fragile cancer care delivery system and threaten patient access to life-extending cancer care.  

Since sequestration took effect in 2013, a growing number of oncology practices—particularly small and rural practices—have expressed concerns over growing financial burdens and sustainability of the essential services they provide to patients. Additional, and larger, Medicare cuts which are now looming in 2018, could force these practices to close their doors or consolidate, which will reduce patient access to cancer care. 

ASCO's core mission is to ensure that people with cancer have meaningful access to high-quality cancer care. We now strongly call on Congress to protect our patients by quickly passing legislation to avoid unintended but significant harm to patients who rely on Medicare to receive their cancer treatment.


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