Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Medicare Rules to Blame For Low Research Rates

A new study from the University of Pittsburgh has confirmed the long held belief in the medical community that Medicare recipients are not taking part in clinical cancer treatment trials as often as the patients or researchers would like. Nearly all Medicare HMO enrollees are asked to pay for 20-percent of their treatment costs if they choose to enroll in a cancer treatment trial. Researchers Chyongchiou Lin and Dwight Harrin say that extra cost discourages participation. Nearly two-thirds of cancer patients are age 65 and older but less than a third of those enrolled in clinical trials were over 65. They believe that hurts the validity of some studies and slows the overall progress of cancer treatment research. The researchers hope individuals will lobby lawmakers to ask for the experimental treatments to be covered. Harrin says because the treatment is “experimental” is not a good reason to put the extra burden on the patients. He says it has been well documented in the past that patients enrolled in clinical trails get better care, better follow-up care and frequently better outcomes.

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