One Cancer Patient's Not-So-Pretty View of Obamacare

By: Joel Gehrke Washington Examiner | Posted: April 3, 2014 12:00 PM
Tom Coburn

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla.

When Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., pointed out that the majority of cancer centers in the country aren't covered under Obamacare while arguing that the law's problems go beyond early website issues, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., dismissed the critique as too "in the weeds."

Coburn, a medical doctor battling cancer, panned the coverage offered to cancer patients.

"Nineteen of the cancer centers in this country, only five are covered under Obamacare," he told the Washington Examiner Tuesday, a data point he attributed to the low payments the Affordable Care Act provides for those treatments.

"You know, it's a market, and what they've done is they've priced it where these cancer centers, a lot of them, aren't going to participate because they don't get paid to cover the costs," he said. Coburn, who is retiring at the end of this year, said his cancer center initially refused to accept the government health insurance, but has since reversed that policy.

Reid suggested that Coburn was taking too narrow a view of the law. "Dr. Coburn is very good at getting into the weeds and trying to find something that he thinks makes sense, but I think we need to look at the overall context of this bill," he replied when asked about Coburn's comments during a Senate press briefing. "It really brings a lot of people in from the cold so that they have the ability to get health insurance, which they've never had the opportunity [to do] before."

Reid hailed the White House's announcement that 7 million people had enrolled in insurance through Obamacare, but Coburn said the statistic is a "numbers game."

"You had 6 million who lost their insurance, how many net new people got covered? How many who lost their insurance don't have insurance today?" Coburn asked. "And is it affordable? ... The ones that lost their insurance now have [Obamacare], and we don't know what that number is. I guarantee you three-quarters of them are paying a significantly higher cost, have a higher co-pay and a higher deductible."

Joel Gehrke is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.

Comments (1)

8:07AM APR 4TH 2014
"Nineteen of the cancer centers in this country, only five are covered under Obamacare," he told the Washington Examiner Tuesday, ..."

I would like to know how many are covered under each of the health insurance companies that aren't part of Obamacare.

Way before Obamacare was a gleam in the Democrat's eye, my s-i-l had a good policy with B/C B/S and yet it didn't cover her treatment at MD Anderson in Orlando.

In any case, that's not insurmountable. But, if we're going to make sure everyone has coverage for the best cancer treatment centers, we better place a higher emphasis on prevention. Not only is the "best" cancer "treatment" very expensive, in too many cases, it's also futile.

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