If the Republican tax cuts bill becomes law, it will immediately trigger a $25 billion cut in Medicare. That’s because of mandatory spending cuts that will kick in as a result the tax bill’s $1.5 trillion increase to the deficit. The last time this happened, that Medicare cuts were forced, wasn’t that long ago. It was 2013. And as Sarah Kliff reminds us, what happened then was that cancer patients were turned away from clinics, because the clinics couldn’t afford the expensive chemotherapy drugs they were administering without Medicare offsetting the costs.
In 2013, it was temporary, part of the government shutdown. This time around it would be a permanent cut. In light of that, Kliff followed up with an oncologist who sees that threat again as a result of this bill.
I talked to one Long Island oncologist who said he and his staff held an emergency meeting earlier this week and decided they would no longer see one-third of their 16,000 Medicare patients. “It’s a choice between seeing these patients and staying in business,” Jeff Vacirca, chief executive of North Shore Hematology Oncology Associates, told me.
The Senate could pass separate legislation to skirt these rules that would require the automatic budget cuts—but as my colleague Tara Golshan notes, the politics of Republicans voting to undermine a deficit-management law won’t be easy.
And if they don’t, the fears of cancer clinics turning patients away could become real again. The tax bill could, for some seniors, become a bill that sharply limits their access to health care.
Cancer patients and survivors, people with other serious, life-threatening conditions are facing the very real possibility that they will lose their insurance because of the repeal of the mandate in Obamacare. Patients who thought they’d be okay because they’re covered by Medicare are now losing that assurance.
Republicans are taking away treatment from cancer patients. They’re doing it to give tax cuts to corporations and the rich. And they’re proud of themselves.
Senators Collins, Corker, Flake, Johnson, McCain, Murkowksi? All we need are THREE of these Republicans to stop the worst GOP Tax Scam, and the Senate is voting any day. Call your senators at (202) 224-3121 and tell them to vote “no.”