Today marked a milestone: my mother was released from the surgeon, a year after she received a new knee. After complications and setbacks, she's walking better and getting stronger each day. This is something to be celebrated.
The knee she was born with, like other joints in her body, was attacked by rheumatoid arthritis (RA). It's a painful, life-changing, and even life-threatening disease. The new knee (and endless physical therapy and loving care from my dad) helped. But surgery doesn't stop RA, and nothing has helped the devastating psoriatic arthritis she's been affected with. Except one thing. What has slowed the effects for her, and for countless others, are biologic therapies.
Now, because of proposed cuts to Medicare Part B, my mom may not be able to get the infusions she receives every few weeks. Like chemotherapy, these infusions can be given in a doctor's office. She and my father make the drive to downtown Birmingham so she can be hooked to the IV and receive the drugs, which give her headaches and make her sleepy the day of, but help her walk and retain daily function.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently proposed payment cuts that would make it difficult if not impossible for rheumatologists like hers to obtain and administer these drugs. From The Hill:
"The move would unquestionably exacerbate existing patient access problems, leaving many arthritis patients without treatment options, and pushing others toward more expensive settings like hospitals for their care. Hospital-based infusions often come with higher copays, longer travel times, and the distinct disadvantage of patients having to receive complex therapies absent of the supervision of their trusted rheumatologist, who know the unique personal history of their complicated condition and can monitor for adverse reactions."
These payment cuts might render treatment impossible for her, which could have devastating results. She is not alone.
This Forbes piece says 316 organizations stand opposed to the cuts, which would impact Medicare beneficiaries with disabling and life-threatening conditions. Groups like The Oncology Nursing Society, American Kidney Fund, and Lung Cancer Alliance. And the American College of Rheumatology. Oh, and it has bipartisan opposition, and you know they don't agree on anything.
Living with a debilitating illness is hard (understatement!)
Knowing you could lose access to medical care -- or that it could become financially impossible -- makes things even worse.
One way that you can help is to join us in signing this petition against these proposed cuts. The petition, which takes just a moment, needs to be signed by May 9. It could help an untold number of people, including my mom. And maybe, just maybe, someone you love.