Can Medicare be Cut Without Harming Patients?

Yes, according to former White House advisors, Zeke Emanuel and Jeff Liebman:

  • Late last year, the Food and Drug Administration determined that the drug Avastin, which has serious side effects, is not effective for treating breast cancer. Astonishingly, Medicare declared it will still pay for Avastin — at a cost of about $88,000 per year for each patient.
  • Consider colonoscopies. The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends not doing colonoscopies for most people over 75 because there is no evidence that they save lives in this population. Moreover, the risk of perforating the intestines rises with age. Yet Medicare pays for the procedure regardless of the patient’s age.
  • Every year more than 1 million cardiac stents are placed in patients to open blocked arteries. Stents are essential immediately after a heart attack, but a 2007 randomized trial conducted at 50 medical centers in the United States and Canada showed that for patients with stable heart disease, stents do not reduce the number of heart attacks or save lives when compared with drug therapy. And they are substantially more expensive.

Comments (5)

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  1. Nancy says:

    I think patients are going to be harmed.

  2. Paul H. says:

    There probably is a lot of waste in the system. The problem is: the goverment will never be able to get rid of it.

  3. Frank says:

    Here is an ad for how the government plans on reducing fraud.

    Remember seniors, Stop, Spot, and Report fraud. Don’t confuse this with stop, drop, and roll. Please locate your Senior Medicare Patrol Volunteers for further information….they are “very powerful tools”

  4. Virginia says:

    There are probably dozens of treatments that could easily be cut from Medicare’s budget. Some are easy to spot like those mentioned above. Others will come as a result of better research into evidence-based care.

  5. Carolyn Needham says:

    Yet another reason Medicare reform needs to involve doctors.