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For Immediate Release: December 4, 2013
NEW ACCC Survey Says Cancer Care Suffers from Sequester's Ripple Effect
75 percent of respondents say sequester impacts all cancer patients—a jump of 15 percent from previous results
ROCKVILLE, Md.—A follow-up survey by the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC) of its membership shows that the 2% reduction in Medicare payments due to the sequester is affecting all cancer patients—not just those on Medicare. ACCC is the advocacy and education organization for more than 19,000 cancer care professionals from approximately 1,900 hospitals and private practices.
An initial ACCC survey released in June 2013, showed 60% of respondents stating that the sequester impacts all patients. But in a recent follow–up survey, 75% of respondents say the sequester impacts all patients—a jump of 15%.
"Cancer care providers understand that although the sequester cuts affect Medicare patients directly, the total sequester impact is felt by all cancer patients," said ACCC President Virginia T. Vaitones, MSW, OSW–C, an oncology social worker.
Survey results reveal that non-revenue-generating programs have been hit the hardest with patient navigation services being cut at the fastest growing rate. Cutting these services significantly impacts the quality of cancer care for patients since these programs help streamline patient access to diagnosis and treatment, reducing barriers such as finances, cultural and health literacy issues, transportation, etc.
In ACCC's earlier survey, 58% of respondents reported making changes due to the sequester. In the follow–up survey, that percentage rose to 67%—an increase of 9% in only six months.
Of those making changes, more than 84% say they are adjusting operating expenses, including making staffing changes, as compared to 78% percent in the original survey. Of those making staffing changes, most are cutting staff hours, reducing full–time employees to part–time, and not replacing employees when they resign.
Interestingly, in the follow–up survey, of those who had not yet made changes, 25% said they did not expect to make changes in the future due to the sequester, as compared to 14% in the earlier survey.
"It is certainly good news that some programs are not making changes due to the 2% Medicare sequester," said Vaitones. "However, because the sequester is now impacting a greater number of cancer programs, it remains vitally important for cancer care providers to contact their elected officials to let them know how the sequester is impacting their ability to care for patients."
Results of the follow–up survey indicate a significant impact across all sites of service, from the hospital to the physician office setting. ACCC will continue to work with its membership to educate members of Congress on the impact these cuts are having on cancer patients and providers.
For more information on the survey, or for information on ACCC's advocacy efforts, please contact Sydney Abbott at firstname.lastname@example.org.