Letter to the Editor

Incentivize treatment breakthrough

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Medicare patients today, and everyone hoping for a cure for cancer or other catastrophic illnesses down the road, need help from Congress now.

There is an upsetting proposal referred to as the International Pricing Index model to change how Medicare decides on reimbursement rates

for pharmaceuticals covered under Part B. Those are things like chemotherapy drugs administered at a doctor’s office or clinic.

As a nurse who worked in oncology during my career, I can tell you this proposal is the wrong approach.

The crazy part is, Medicare wants to import foreign governments’ pricing on these drugs, so the decisions of Canadian, French and other bureaucrats override the American free market.

Patients in these countries can get their hands on only a fraction of the newer therapies we use in the U.S. Why on earth would we want to limit our options for treatment?

I’m not on Medicare yet, but I will be on the front lines if this change takes effect. Without access to advanced therapies, cancer patients and those facing other chronic ailments will be negatively impacted over time.

What’s more, government kills innovation on contact. Over the years I spent in the medical field, the development of new therapies drastically improved the lives and outcomes for my patients.

Government intervention in the market will slow or potentially stop this progress.

The best course of action is for the U.S. to incentivize breakthroughs in cancer treatment, and yes, that means allowing the market to work in setting the price and return on amazing medical discoveries.

— Kay Quirk, Alta