Top health care experts meeting at the Institute of Medicine last week delivered a stern message to the nation's 15,000 oncologists and their patients: Either learn to deliver care at lower costs or watch the government and insurance companies impose limits.
"If you think this is a tough reimbursement environment, just wait a year or two," said Mark McClellan, who headed the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services during the George W. Bush administration. "Leadership is needed to show how to get to better care on a more sustainable fiscal path."
The sentiment was echoed by Ezekiel Emanuel, an oncologist and top adviser to the Obama administration during the battle to enact the Affordable Care Act, which imposed a first round of payment restrictions on Medicare providers. "We can never get too much cost control," he said. "There's $700 to $800 billion of waste in the health care system. We have a long way to go."