Published on July 7, 2011 at 6:19 AM
: Medicare Coverage Of Pricey Cancer
Drugs Sparks 'Rationing' Debate
As health care costs play an ever-increasing role in Washington's budget drama, Medicare officials announced last week they will continue to pay for two extremely expensive cancer treatments despite lingering questions about their effectiveness. At a cost of about $88,000 per year, the cancer-fighting Avastin
will still be available to eligible senior citizens for breast cancer
treatment. The same goes for Provenge, a new "therapeutic vaccine
" that boosts the immune system to fight prostate cancer
for about $93,000 per course. Even the staunchest number-crunchers are hesitant to argue against effective cancer medications. But in this economic climate, the high costs and limited benefits of the two drugs make them a target for health care analysts on both sides of the health care debate. Given the circumstances, they wonder, can Medicare afford it? (Kane, 7/5).
This article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.