KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Fla. Cancer Docs Bill Often For Controversial Drug

And former Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson is urging Medicare to cover some obesity medicines.

The Wall Street Journal: Cancer Doctors Ring Up Big Medicare Bills For Tarnished Drug Procrit
Many cancer doctors now use a drug called Procrit sparingly. It was approved in 1989 for anemia and became a popular treatment for that side effect of chemotherapy. But regulators later learned Procrit can speed tumor growth and hasten death in cancer patients. … Medicare paid U.S. oncologists $128 million in 2012 to administer Procrit, federal data show. One-sixth of that money went to oncologists in the group, Florida Cancer Specialists. Of the 20 oncologists whom Medicare paid most for Procrit, 11 belonged to the Florida group (Weaver, Wilde Mathews and McGinty, 6/20). 

Associated Press:  Officials Want Medicare To Cover Obesity Medicine 
Former U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson is urging Congress to pass year-old legislation requiring Medicare to cover obesity medicines for seniors. The ex-Wisconsin governor was in Lansing Wednesday drawing attention to the obesity problem. Thompson says fitness and diet are important, but some overweight people also need medications because of genetics and metabolism. He says if Medicare covers obesity treatments, long-term costs associated with chronic diseases will drop (6/19). 

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