Reimbursement Policy and Cancer Chemotherapy Treatment and Outcomes

The researchers examined the impact of MMA-mandated changes in Medicare payment rates for chemotherapy drugs. Specifically, they estimated the effect of the significant payment reduction on incentives to prescribe chemotherapy, the probability of using chemotherapy, and the choice of chemotherapy agents administered to newly diagnosed cancer patients. Some hypothesized that the reduction in payment rates will cause physicians to be reluctant to accept Medicare patients, while others argue that since Medicare is such an important source of physician income, the rate reduction could lead to physician-induced demand. If the researchers find an effect of MMA on either utilization or drug choice, they will conduct a follow-up study of the impact of the MMA on patient health outcomes. The objective of the study was to assess whether the MMA, by altering financial incentives, affects chemotherapy utilization and/or the choice of drugs used.