Can Medicare be Cut Without Harming Patients?

August 29, 2011
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Yes, according to former White House advisors, Zeke Emanuel and Jeff Liebman:

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.