Sequestration. It's the word that makes everyone cringe, but for some cancer patients, it may be a killer.
Cuts in medicare reimbursements could make a critical difference in patient care. It's still a little early to tell how much patients will be impacted by those cuts. However, if nothing is done to help make up the difference, medicare patients may have to go elsewhere for life-saving treatment, if they can afford it at all.
"I have a lot of exotic drugs that we have medicare pickup the cost or we almost can't afford to do it and it's been a life saver," said John Peterson, a cancer patient at Texas Oncology.
Peterson has been battling Leukemia for 12 years.
"I'm concerned about this situation where I can't use this cancer center for the treatment," said Peterson. "It's so much less stressful than a hospital."
Effective on April 1, medicare spending will be reduced by 2% cutting payments for cancer drugs, and causing many health care providers to be reimbursed less than the cost of the medicine they give out.
Cancer patients like Peterson may lose their funding.
Dr. Carl Chakmakjian is a medical oncologist at the center, and the majority of his patients are medicare patients.
"With the two percent cut through the sequestration, its been an estimated that medicare patients 50-70% of the drugs that we give, we are losing money on that. And that's a serious situation," said Chakmakjian.
The medicare cut has doctors worried about their patients and their business.
"You can only lose money for so long before you can't give that drug here or the patient has to go somewhere else," said Chakmakjian.
Nationwide, many cancer clinics will have to eventually limit their services or close.
"When you have fixed expenes like chemo drugs that you have to buy and give, that just makes a negative margin because the amount that we have to pay, is for the drug and the amount that we have to be reimbursed by medicare." said Chakmakjian. "There is a very tight margin."
There is hope, and it all comes down to the government.
A petition has been started at the White House to stop the cuts. For more information and to sign the petition, you can find it by clicking here.