Grassley Gets It Wrong Again and is a Hypocrite to Boot

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  • 08/30/2006

Headlines claim that CMS spent $275 million on a quality demonstration project to measure cancer care that proved nothing…

Here’s the lede of the story as reported by AP

Report questions millions spent on effort to measure patient care
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Kevin Freking
Associated Press
Cancer doctors received about $275 million from the federal government and the elderly last year as part of a yearlong research project that many doctors believe won’t produce any useful findings.

Under the program, the federal government paid $130 each time a chemotherapy provider assessed a Medicare patient’s pain, fatigue and nausea. The payments were designed to encourage doctors to report information that might one day lead to improved care for cancer patients….

Iowa Republican Sen. Charles Grassley, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said taxpayers and beneficiaries were “bilked” because they paid for services that physicians are already supposed to provide. …”

Let the record show that ” Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Senator Max Baucus (D-Montana) have presented a bill that entitles providers that report quality data and satisfy particular quality standards to obtain full Medicare reimbursement along with bonuses. Providers who do not report data will only receive Medicare reimbursements at the full rate of inflation minus two percentage points…”

If someone can explain the difference between what Medicare is doing and what Grassley has proposed, please comment….

Meanwhile, as to the OIG claim that the data is useless, let the record show that CMS will reimburse physicians who report whether their treatment of patients adheres to recommendations in nationally recognized practice guidelines published by either the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) or the American Society of Clinical Oncology. The demonstration will focus on thirteen cancer types that account for at least 80% of all patients with cancer in the United States. ” Now this might not be outcomes data but at least it is a start…a baseline for measuring the transition to products that don’t produce such side effects and don’t require hospitalizaton…get it? Such measures are important since you would be astounded how many people don’t complete cancer care because of pain, fatigue and nausea and therefore die as a result. So compliance with protocols to reduce such feelings matter a hell of a lot. And the payment for collecting such data is less this year, a little fact that both OIG and news accounts forgot to include.

Shame on Grassley for grandstanding and being so grossly hypocritical in the process.


Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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