Nov-18 ASCO Deeply Concerned about Cuts to Medicare as “Supercommittee” Deadline Approaches

18 Nov 2011 7:20 PM | Lori Aubrey (Administrator)

The bipartisan Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, otherwise known as the “supercommittee,” is days away from its deadline to propose a plan to reduce the federal deficit by $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years. After the federal budget and debt-ceiling battles this past summer, the committee is mandated by law to issue its recommendations by Nov. 23. At this time, there is no indication the group of 12 lawmakers on the committee have come to a deal, and it is unclear if they will at all.

ASCO has been focused on these deliberations from the start with particular concern about preventing a proposed cut to Medicare’s Average Sales Price, and including the repeal of the Sustainable Growth Ratereform in any final debt reduction package. ASCO staff and volunteers have been working for several months to prevent the supercommittee from proposing measures that will negatively affect oncology practices, particularly cuts to ASP.

Congress must vote by Dec. 23 on any recommendations the supercommittee makes. No amendments will be allowed. If the committee cannot reach agreement on a proposal, or if Congress does not enact a plan by Dec. 23, across-the-board cuts of $1.2 trillion would be made automatically in military and domestic programs, including a cut to Medicare. Cuts will take effect in 2013.

While it is unclear what, if any, plan the committee will present to Congress, ASCO is preparing for several possible outcomes of next week’s deadline. These include:

  • The committee outlines a specific plan that includes cuts to ASP.

  • The committee outlines a specific plan that does not include cuts to the ASP.

  • The committee directs Congressional committees to identify cuts of a certain percentage or dollar amount from the Medicare budget.

  • The committee does not make recommendations and the required “trigger” mechanism (sequestration) required by law goes into effect, directing automatic cuts of $1.2 trillion, including a 2 percent cut to Medicare, across the board cuts to discretionary spending and $600 billion in cuts to defense spending.

The committee may release its plan as early as Monday. While time is running out to influence its members, your voice matters. ASCO urges members to call or send an email to your legislators before Monday. Ask them to tell the supercommittee to oppose any cuts to the ASP and to include SGR reform in any final package. Let them know that cuts to ASP will seriously harm access to care for millions of cancer patients throughout the U.S. as previous cuts to Medicare have already caused oncology practices to close, consolidate and turn away Medicare patients.

Continue to follow ASCO in Action for the latest coverage of reimbursement issues affecting your practice and your patients. You can now follow ASCO in Action on Twitter at @ascoaction.


Northern New England Clinical Oncology Society
P.O. Box 643
Sandown, NH 03873-0643
Telephone (603) 887-1948

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