Medicare coverage, pricey cancer drugs and the 'rationing' issue

PBS Newshour: 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).

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis 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.

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